Misused Conjunction


A very common mistake, which has been around for a long time, is the word that should follow the verb try. Example of incorrect usage: One should try and write better. The word try requires a preposition, not a conjunction. (A conjunction literally joins two equivalent or related words, phrases, clauses, or sentences.) The sentence shown implies two actions: 1) One should try AND 2) One should write better. This is probably not the intent of the writer. The corrected sentence reads: One should try to write better.

A great way to test whether to use and or to is to substitute a synonym for try, and then use that word in front of and. Example: In the sentence above, replace the word try with the word attempt: One should attempt and write better. Sounds weird, right? But, One should attempt to write better works well.

A variation of this improper usage is go on and (e.g., They probably will go on and become famous). The sentence likely does not intend to convey two thoughts—going on AND becoming famous. It’s probably intended to mean that the people referred to will move forward in some way that will make them persons of renown. So the sentence should read: They probably will go on to become famous.

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