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What is the difference between a) and b)?

a) She tried washing her hair in beer.

b) She tried to wash her hair in beer.

Thank you. Please explain how I can understand the difference.

Hi David,

My initial response is that they have the same meaning, and they are awfully close to being the same. But on reflection, there's probably a bit more nuance there.

The first sentence probably would be interpreted to mean that washing her hair in beer was something she had not done before, and she wanted to see how it would work out. Although I've never tried it, some people in this country do sometimes wash their hair in beer and claim it produces a luster like nothing else. So she might be trying it to see if beer has that effect on her hair.

The second sentence lacks that potential nuance, I think. It's just something she tried to do, whether for the first time or not.

Hope this helps.

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Dan Smith


I have been a professional writer and editor for more than 30 years, taught speech and English composition at the university level, and have developed speech and English composition courses and seminars for businesses. I am experienced in editing a wide variety of materials, especially business, scientific, and other academic papers. I am familiar with all the major style guides.


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