Difference Wiki

Attempt vs. Try: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 22, 2024
Attempt is an act of trying to achieve something, often implying a single, focused effort; try suggests making an effort or experiment to do something.

Key Differences

Attempt often implies a specific, determined effort to achieve a goal. Try is more general, suggesting an effort or experiment without implying the level of commitment.
An attempt usually refers to a singular act of striving towards a particular aim. Try, however, can refer to repeated efforts or experiments in various contexts.
Attempt carries a slightly more formal tone and is often used in more serious or high-stakes situations. Try is more casual and commonly used in everyday language.
In legal contexts, attempt can denote an effort to commit a crime, regardless of success. Try is less likely to be used in this formal, legalistic sense.
Attempt can be a noun and a verb, try is primarily a verb but can also be a noun

Comparison Chart


Specific and determined effort
General effort or experiment


Often implies a single act
Can imply repeated efforts


Slightly more formal
More casual

Legal Usage

Used to describe efforts to commit a crime
Less common in legal contexts

Part of Speech

Both a noun and a verb
Primarily a verb, occasionally a noun

Attempt and Try Definitions


A single, focused effort towards a goal.
The team’s final attempt to score was successful.


To put effort into achieving or completing something.
She will try her best in the upcoming exam.


A try at something challenging or new.
His first attempt at baking a cake was a success.


To make an effort or attempt to do something.
I will try to learn a new language this year.


An act of trying something difficult.
His attempt to climb the mountain was admirable.


Testing or experimenting with something.
Let's try this new method to solve the problem.


To make an effort to achieve something.
She made an attempt to break the world record.


Making an attempt or effort, regardless of the outcome.
Even if you fail, it's important to try.


Undertaking a task with the aim of achieving it.
Her attempt at writing a novel was well-received.


Attempting to do something despite difficulties.
He decided to try again after his initial failure.


To try to perform, make, or achieve
Attempted to read the novel in one sitting.
Attempted a difficult dive.


To make an effort to do or accomplish (something); attempt
Tried to ski.


(Archaic) To tempt.


To taste, sample, or otherwise test in order to determine strength, effect, worth, or desirability
Try this casserole.


Can "try" be a noun?

Yes, though less commonly, as in "give it a try".

Is "attempt" more serious than "try"?

Yes, "attempt" often carries a more serious or determined connotation than "try".

Is "attempt" used for difficult tasks?

Often, yes, it's used when referring to challenging or significant tasks.

Can "try" be informal?

Yes, "try" is commonly used in casual, everyday language.

Does "attempt" always require a serious effort?

Typically, it implies a more focused and serious effort.

Does "attempt" imply a singular effort?

Generally, yes, it often refers to a specific, singular act of striving towards a goal.

Is "attempt" more goal-oriented?

Yes, it usually focuses on achieving a specific aim.

Can "try" imply multiple efforts?

Yes, "try" can suggest repeated efforts or experiments.

Is "attempt" used in legal contexts?

Yes, "attempt" is often used in legal contexts to describe the effort to commit a crime.

Can "attempt" refer to illegal actions?

Yes, particularly in legal language, like "attempted robbery".

Is "attempt" used in sports contexts?

Yes, like "an attempt at a goal".

How does context affect the use of "try" and "attempt"?

The choice between them can depend on formality, seriousness, and the nature of the task.

Can "attempt" denote determination?

Yes, it often implies a determined effort to achieve something.

Are "try" and "attempt" interchangeable?

In many contexts, they can be, but there are nuances in tone and formality.

Can "try" suggest a lack of commitment?

Sometimes, it can imply a less committed or experimental effort.

Does "try" fit in all contexts where "attempt" is used?

Not always, especially in formal or legal contexts.

Can "try" imply exploration or experimentation?

Yes, it often implies exploring different methods or approaches.

Is "attempt" used for one-time efforts?

Often, but not exclusively.

Does "try" have a less specific goal than "attempt"?

Sometimes, as it can be more about the process than the outcome.

Is "try" more versatile in everyday language?

Yes, its usage is broader and more common in everyday speech.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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