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In English, we often use the word "attempt". Here's 5 random example sentences (off the top of my head):

I'm attempting to learn Chinese.
I attempted to make a joke, but it didn't go well.
I'm attempting to resolve the situation.
He didn't even attempt to explain himself.
She's attempting to convince me that's she's innocent.

"Attempt" is typically translated to 试图 in dictionaries (there's also 企图 but it has negative connotations), so I might say something like this in Chinese:

我正在试图学习中文。
试图开个玩笑,不过没受欢迎。
我在试图解决不佳的情况。
他连试图解释自己也没有。
她在试图说服我自己是无辜的。

One of my iTalki teachers pointed out that he almost never uses the word 试图 (and how I use it all the time), so I'm guessing all of my sentences above are unnatural (or maybe even plain wrong). So now I'm at a loss for how I should go about constructing Chinese sentences for which I would naturally use the verb "attempt" in English.

Question: How can we construct natural Chinese sentences when their English counterpart contains the verb "attempt"?

To be clear, I'm looking for general guidelines on word choice and grammar which I can use when constructing Chinese sentences where I would use the verb "attempt" in English, not merely "here's better translations to the five above sentences".

2 Answers 2

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  1. If the attempt has the strong meaning of "trying to do"(not sure if can do it or not, e.g. 试图违规的运动员都被裁判发现了), you can use 试图。If the attempt in the English sentence has the similar expression of "going to do" (not strong trying), you can just omit this word in Chinese sentence. As your examples, you can just say: 我正在学习中文 and 我开了个玩笑,不过没受欢迎。

  2. 试图 more appears in the writing Chinese. In the speaking Chinese, people may use "试着,尝试,or 试 etc." instead. Despite this, 试图 is not rare in speaking Chinese.

3.In my opinion, I don't agree with your iTalki teacher. Perhaps he/she him/herself rarely used "试图", 试图 is not a weird word. In your first & second sentence, you can omit 试图 and I think your using of 试图 in sentence 3-5 are all correct.

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Attempt - 尝试(着) - give something a try; 企图 - want/tempt/offer to try; 试图 - willingly try.

尝试(着); 企图

= 我正在尝试着学习中文。

  • 企图学习中文。

= 我在尝试着解决經济不佳的情况。

  • 企图解决經济不佳的情况。

= 她在尝试着说服我自己是无辜的。

  • 企图说服我自己是无辜的。

试图; 企图

= 我试图讓他开心,不过没成功。

  • 企图讓他开心. 但失敗了.

= 他连试图解释自己的立場也不肯。

  • 企图解释自己的立場.

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