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I am trying to understand the difference between the words "пытаться" and "стараться".

According to the dictionaries that are available both mean "try" or "attempt" something, but in slightly different senses, which I am unable to work out.

This answer to a related question claims that the words are synonymous. But it doesn't seem like that according to my dictionaries.

This question seem to be a duplicate of mine, but it is in Russian and I am yet not proficient enough to understand it.

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Here is my attempt at translation of the accepted answer to the duplicate (your second link):

(limiting the scope to similar meanings only)

пытаться - (try) to perform directed actions in hopes to obtain result.

пробовать - to try, while being unsure in usefulness of the chosen approach

стараться - while sticking to the chosen approach, expend the efforts to obtain the best result.

The difference between your words is the same as between the nouns попытка and старание. A more suitable translation for the latter that I could find is 'assiduity' (the former is, of course, 'attempt').

Hence you can translate "пытаться" as "to try, to attempt" and "стараться" as "to apply oneself, to strive, to exert oneself"

http://en.glosbe.com/ru/en/ seems to have those.


Examples:

Я пытаюсь придумать примеры. - I am trying to come up with examples.
Он старается выглядеть счастливым. - He strives to look happy.
Она всячески старалась не показать вида. - She endeavored at all cost not to show it.
Вчера мы пытались доказать это. - Yesterday we attempted to prove it.
Я стараюсь не подводить друзей. - I take pains not to fail my friends.

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  • I applied myself :-) – Victor Bazarov Aug 28 '15 at 20:25
  • The answer I linked to have this description of "пробовать": "to try", "to taste" or "to test". "Try a new dish" is given as an example in another answer. That is not really the same as the explanation given here. – Lii Aug 28 '15 at 21:45
  • Yes, two explanations do differ. But you weren't asking about "пробовать". – Victor Bazarov Aug 28 '15 at 21:50
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    "пытаться" is"to try to do x" (no special meaning attached). "стараться" is "to try your best to do x" (with effort; to remember something etc). "пробовать" is for the most part the physical "to try" to try some ice cream, to try a new style. The first two do not have an object after the verb; they will be followed by another verb. the last one can be followed by an object in the accusative. – VCH250 Aug 29 '15 at 1:26
  • An example using both words in the same sentence to illustrate the difference between the desired result (пытался переубедить) and the method of operation for doing it effectively (старался не обидеть): Я пытался его переубедить, поэтому старался избегать болезненных для него тем. I wanted him to change his mind, so I tried to only use the words that wouldn't cause any offence (to make it easy for him to agree). – Alex_ander Aug 29 '15 at 10:58

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