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Trying things in Japanese

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Do or do not. There is no try.

Let's try some stuff

In English, we use the word, "try" to mean both "to try something out" and "to make an effort to do something". In Japanese, these are separate grammatical expressions. For instance, "I tried the cherry flavor" and "I tried to do homework" mean quite different things and though English does not make a distinction, Japanese does.

To try something out

To try something out, you simply need to change the verb to the te-form and add 「みる」. If it helps you to remember, you can think of it as a sequence of an action and then seeing the result. In fact 「みる」 conjugates just like 「見る」. However, just like the 「~てほしい grammar we learned, this is a set phrase and 「みる」 is usually written in hiragana.


(1) お好み焼き初めて食べてみたけど、とてもおいしかった!- I tried eating okonomiyaki for the first time and it was very tasty!
(2) お酒飲んでみましたが、すごく眠くなりました。- I tried drinking alcohol and I became extremely sleepy.
(3) 新しいデパート行ってみる。- I'm going to check out the new department store.
(4) 広島お好み焼き食べてみたい!- I want to try eating Hiroshima okonomiyaki!

To attempt to do something

We already learned that the volitional form was used to indicate a will to set out to do something. If you guessed that this next grammar for attempting to do something would involve the volitional form, you were right. To say that you tried (as in attempted) to do something, you need to conjugate the verb into the volitional, enclose it in a quotation (so that we can perform an action on the clause) and finally add the verb 「する」. Or put more simply, you just add 「とする」 to the volitional form of the verb. This is simply an extension of the quoted subordinate clause from the last section. Instead of saying the quote (言う) or treating it as a thought (思う考える), we are simply doing it with 「する」.


(1) 毎日勉強避けようする
- Everyday, she attempts to avoid study.

(2) 無理矢理部屋入ろうしている
- He is attempting to force his way into the room.

(3) 早く寝ようしたけど、結局徹夜した
- I attempted to sleep early but ended up staying up all night.

(4) お酒飲もうしたが、奥さん止めた
- He tried to drink alcohol but his wife stopped him.

Though we use the verb 「する」 to say, "to do attempt", we can use different verbs to do other things with the attempt. For instance, we can use the verb 「決める」 to say, "decide to attempt to do [X]". Here are some examples of other actions carried out on the attempt.

(1) 勉強なるべく避けよう思った
- I thought I would attempt to avoid studying as much as possible.

(2) 毎日ジム行こう決めた
- Decided to attempt to go to gym everyday.

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This page has last been revised on 2005/3/26