I know that -てみる can mean "try", but my understanding of it is that it means "try it and see what it's like" or "give it a try". But is there a way of expressing "try" that emphasizes that effort was made to succeed?

As an example, saying "I am trying to do Kendo" in Japanese:


sounds like I'm going for a brief "trial" to see how I like it. How would I express that I am making a strong effort to succeed at it?

  • What about 努力する?
    – user1478
    Commented Oct 28, 2012 at 3:00
  • @snailplane For me 努力 has a connotation of trying as hard as you can at something that is considered your job/obligation/etc.
    – Earthliŋ
    Commented Oct 28, 2012 at 9:02
  • As I understand it, when someone says “I am trying to do Kendo,” the speaker has not started Kendo yet, and it is different from trying Kendo. Which is your question? Commented Oct 28, 2012 at 11:47
  • 1
    @TsuyoshiIto: It's ambiguous. If the speaker has not yet started the activity, "I'm trying to do X" implies that there is something preventing them from starting. If they have already started a regular/repeating activity, it can either have the same "I am having difficulty" implication, or it can have an implication that they are somewhat new to the activity. "I am trying Kendo" overlaps with this second meaning.
    – jkerian
    Commented Oct 29, 2012 at 21:16

2 Answers 2


As a native speaker, I would say:




But, these are a little bit colloquial. When I want to be more formal, I will say:


or, simply,

  • Hmm, that's exactly but I wanted to post as an answer, but I doubted myself. Glad to see I was on the right track.
    – istrasci
    Commented Oct 28, 2012 at 5:03

The other answer covers "I'm trying my best at X", but "try" in English has another meaning, I would say the most common meaning in fact, of "attempt" [something that may not succeed or even get off the ground]. For this meaning, what I've heard is volitional + とする, like this:

剣道をしようとしている。 I'm trying to do Kendo [but I'm not sure if I'll be able to find an instructor, etc.]

魚を取ろうとすると、消えちゃった。 When I tried to catch the fish, it disappeared.

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