To Try in Spanish: Intentar vs. Probar vs.Tratar de vs. Tratar

To Try in Spanish

In class, little by little we are learning words. At the beginner level, you need to know the essential Spanish verbs for beginners, and when you advance a bit more, then the essential Spanish verbs for high beginners, and also for the intermediate level, of course. Either way, if you speak English, you start to encounter some small problems: you want “table” to be “mesa” for all words, right? And then you start needing to say “to try” in Spanish, and you find that there is more than one verb. You start searching on the internet and you start finding Tratar vs. probar: what’s the difference between these Spanish verbs? And you think “ok, then my goal is to find the difference between these two. Oh, wait a minute, here it also says What is the difference between intentar and tratar? probar, tratar, or intentar? So… the problem is with three verbs? So my problem is that to try in spanish: probar, tratar, or intentar?  However, I know there is also “tratar de”, and there is also a reflexive form “probarse”. This is confusing! 


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The verbs we are going to talk about are definitely among the 100 most common verbs in Spanish. They are tricky verbs that, fortunately, you can practice for free here.

Take note because in the list of words to know in Spanish, you definitely need these four verbs: intentar vs. probar vs. tratar de vs. tratar. Yes… friends, to say “to try” in Spanish, there isn’t just one word. “Why is Spanish so complicated, Carmen?” I’ll answer with a question: “Why does English have only one word for such different concepts?” Aha! I see your face of confusion and surprise. Have you ever thought about how different the meaning of “to try” is in “I tried mojitos and didn’t like them” and “I will try my best”? I don’t really know how this question sounds to a native English speaker, but in Spanish, these are very different concepts, meanings, which is why we don’t use the same word in both cases.

In the video, I will first start by ruling out the verb “tratar.” Why? Because it really doesn’t have the meaning of “to try”; it’s more like “to treat” or “to assist,” and I will give you examples in these contexts so you can see it clearly. Don’t worry, the video is only 8 minutes long, so it won’t be a lengthy explanation.

What Is The Difference Between “Intentar” and “Probar”?

We delve into the difference between these two verbs. The problem here, as you will see in the video, lies in the meaning of “to try” as “to attempt” or “to strive” and the difference of “to try” in contexts where it is synonymous with “to test.” With “probar,” we talk about “to test,” about having the experience with something, and with “intentar,” we talk about “to attempt or to strive,” so don’t confuse them. In the video, I give you practical and clear examples.

What Is The Difference Between “Probar” and “Tratar” in Spanish?

Ah, good question. Well, as I mentioned earlier, “tratar” doesn’t mean “to try” but rather “to treat” or “to assist”. The confusion you have isn’t with “tratar”, it’s with “tratar de“, and it’s an easy issue to resolve if you learn that “tratar de” is a synonym of “intentar”, as I explain in the video with corresponding examples.

When to Use “Tratar de” and When to Use “Intentar” for “To Try to”?

Do you still have this doubt? Are you sure you’ve watched the video? Both options are synonymous. They are two words used as “to attempt” or “to try”, but be careful because I’m telling you that the synonym for “intentar” is “tratar de”, not just “tratar”, okay?

But anyway, I am sure watching my video on top will help you, and I am not so boring, so just go ahead and find out everything about these troublesome verbs, so you can show off later on about how well you use all these verbs 😉

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