(In this question, I will use "Volitional" to mean "V-(よ)う".)

As I understand it, Volitional + と + する is a phrase meaning "to try to do something". I've also seen similar phrases, but with different verbs instead of する. Here are some examples, some of which may be incorrect:

  • 着{き}ようとする
  • 着ようと思う
  • 着ようと考える
  • 着ようと決める (?)
  • 着ようと出す  (??)

I'd like to analyze this as a general pattern, Volitional + と + Verb. Here are my questions:

  1. Is it a mistake to try to analyze this as a general pattern? 
  2. What exactly is the grammar in this pattern?
  3. Specifically, what function does have?
  4. Is there a fixed list of verbs that can be used after ?

Please let me know if I'm thinking about this the wrong way.

  • @Tim 着{き}よう is the volitional form of 着{き}る "to wear". 着{つ}こう is the volitional form of 着{つ}く "to arrive". – snailplane Dec 5 '12 at 14:39

Here is how I would categorize these usages. There are probably other ways to explain them, and I do not claim that mine is the best in any sense.

(1) ~ようと思う, ~ようと考える, and ~ようと決める are just the usual use of the particle と which signifies quotation, and there is nothing special about the combination of a volitional and と. For example, I think that particle と in the following two sentences is used in the same way:

冬休みは海外旅行に行こうと思った。 I thought, “I will go abroad in the winter vacation.”
この課題は簡単だと思った。 I thought, “This exercise is easy.”

(2a) ~ようとする is a fixed phrase which signifies “try to (do).”

電話に出ようとする try to answer the telephone
星をつかもうとする try to grab a star

(2b) A combination ~ようと of a volitional and と can be also used adverbially to signify “trying to (do)” or “in an attempt to (do).”

電話に出ようと立ち上がる stand up (trying) to answer the telephone
星をつかもうと手を伸ばす extend one’s arm trying to grab a star

I am not sure what 着ようと出す in the question is supposed to mean, but it can be usage (2b) if the rest of a sentence is arranged appropriately.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    If instead of する, you're dealing with a noun + する verb at the end (such as 信頼する), does that still tend to fall into category 2b? What if the subject/topic for the volitional verb is completely different from the one for the する verb? In that case, would something like 信頼する end up falling into the first category instead? – Panzercrisis Feb 24 '18 at 3:40
  • How about 色んなことをやろうと頑張っています。? – Alexis Dec 17 '18 at 18:33
  • Alexis, it's usage 2b. "Try to do it by persevering." Or in more natural English, "Persevere in trying to do it." – mamster Dec 18 '18 at 1:37

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