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Grammar Police descend on the NYT

Or at least this lone Grammar Policeman. I'm busting Jeff Zeleny for this sentence:

An aggressive push by Mr. Romney to try and capitalize on the divided conservative electorate failed to take hold, and he finished third in both states.

"Try and capitalize" is wrong. Instead, it should be "try to capitalize" or just "capitalize." The "and" implies that Romney is doing two things: trying and capitalizing. But "try" doesn't stand on its own; if you eliminate "and capitalize" the sentence makes absolutely no sense. Busted.

March 14, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink


You know my general disdain for the so-called "rules" of grammar in creative writing, but in journalism, a common standard is expected. The whole "try and" error is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. It's almost as bad as when people use "then" instead of "than."

But where was the editor in that NYT piece?

Posted by: Paul at Mar 14, 2012 10:09:16 AM

"try and" is now so common. sad, but I believe so common that I would advise against looking for it in major journalism journals. (too much push, Mr. Lamb?)
Paul's example seems from a different class of error, the 'write what I hear'. as example, I could of finished this post last if I (slight extension) would of remembered that some people have this particular problem hearing, or, not hearing, contractions. some. sometimes.

Posted by: kim at Mar 18, 2012 5:13:16 PM