Confusing Words English Lesson: Challenge Vs. Try

Michael Happy English! 7 Comments

He challenged her

Sometimes, English learners confuse “challenge” and “try.” Let’s have a look at how to use these words.

Challenge is used as a verb and means to invite someone to engage in a competition. We usually use challenge +


  • I challenge you to a game of tennis.
  • Little Bobby challenged his friends to a bicycle race.
  • Romney challenged Obama in the last election.

A person can challenge another person, but not an object. If you want to talk about an object, use try:

  • I want to try the TOEFL exam this year. Not, “I want to challenge the TOEFL exam…”
  • Jack said he wants to try snowboarding. Not, “…wants to challenge snowboarding.”

Challenge is also used as noun, and in its noun form can be used to talk about objects:

  • The TOEFL exam is a challenge, but I think I can do well on it.
  • Jack faced many challenges working overseas.

So the main point is that you can challenge someone, or you can try to do something:

  • I’m going to try taking the TOEIC exam.
  • I want to challenge Jack to a round of golf.

Have you challenged someone recently? Have you tried to take the TOEIC or TOEFL? Leave a comment and let me know!

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If you know anyone who has trouble with this English language point, why not help them out! Just share this lesson with them.

Thanks for studying today!

  • soraya

    great lesson ,

    • Michael

      Thanks Soraya! I appreciate that :)

  • natalia

    VERY useful!! thank you.

  • Maria Talha

    Getting my daughter try swimming is becoming a great challenge for me.

  • Kazuyoshi Hayashi

    As we have “charenji”, imported word in Japanese, we are often mis-led in using the verb “to challenge”.
    This lesson clarified our mist in its usage.
    Many thanks.

    • Michael

      Thanks Kazuyoshi! I am happy to hear it was helpful :)

  • Francisco Javier

    You have very interesting stuff here.

    I’ll have a closer look and probably write a review of this site on my blog.