To Try in Spanish: Probar, Tratar, or Intentar? (with conjugations) (2024)

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The Spanish verbs probar, tratar, andintentarcan all be translated as to tryin English. The three do not always carry the same meaning, however, and can’t always be used interchangeably. So what’s the difference between probar vstratar vs intentarin Spanish?

In today’s post, we’ll explain each verb’s meaning, including plenty of examples. Then we’ll continue with detailed conjugation charts for all three verbs. So in addition to learning how to distinguish between their uses, you’ve come to the right place to see probar conjugation, tratar conjugation, and intentar conjugation.

Both tratarand intentarare regular Spanish -ar verbs, whereas probaris an irregular verb, with stem changes in a number of of key tenses.

As we’ve done with many of our conjugation posts, we’ll present the conjugation charts in the three Spanish moods: indicative, subjunctive, and imperative. Within each mood we’ll provide both simple and compound tenses for all three of our Spanish to tryverbs, side-by-side. We provide links to our detailed lessons on each tense as we present their conjugations.

We’ll provide tons of additional example sentenceswith all three verbs throughout the post, in all of the tenses. Now without further ado, let’s dive in and learn all about probar, tratar,and intentarin Spanish!

Recommended: How to Learn Spanish Fast in 2024

Probar

To try, To try on, To taste, To test

Probarcan be used in different contexts and with different meanings for trying something out. Whether you’re tasting some ice cream flavors or trying on a hat, probaris the verb you need. Let’s take a look at a few examples, where probarmay be translated variously as to try, to try on, to taste, or to test.

  • ¿Ya probastelos fideos que hice? – Have you already tastedthe spaghetti I’ve made?
  • Pruébateeste vestido. Te va a quedar perfecto. – Try this dress on. It will suit you perfectly.
  • Esta clave no funciona. Probemoscon otra. – This password is not working. Let’stryanother one.
  • La computadora ya está arreglada. La probamosmuchas veces. – The computer is already fixed. We testedit many times.

Tratar

To try to, To attempt to, To address, To treat, To cure

Trataris used when someone is attempting toperform an activity or making an effort todo something. This includes attempts at curing ailments, which can be also translated into English as to treat.

In the following examples, we also highlight the prepositionthat’s used with tratar. Where the subject of the sentence attempts some other action, the conjugated form of trataris followed by de + infinitiveof the other verb.

  • Por favor, trata deno reirte mientras te hablo. – Please, trynot to laugh while I’m talking to you.
  • Tomás va a tratar deaprender japonés en dos meses. – Tomás is going to attempt to learn Japanese in two months.
  • Metrató deseñor y me encantó. – She addressed me asSir and I loved it.
  • El médico va a tratarte conflores de Bach. – The doctor is going totreatyou withBach flowers.

Intentar

To try, To attempt to

Intentaris also used when we claim that we willattempt to dosomething or try to dosomething.

As you may notice, intentarand tratarare very similar in meaning. A subtle distinction is that intentarhas to do more with the intentionof doing something, while tratarmeans that you actually triedto do something.

A good way to remember this distinction is through the common root of the word, that it implies an intention. Yes, intentaris often used in excuses!

  • Voy a intentardejar de fumar. – I’ll try toquit smoking.
  • Ella intentóllegar a tiempo a la reunión pero no pudo. – She intended toarrive on time for the meeting, but she couldn’t do it.

Probar, Tratar, and Intentar Conjugation: Indicative Mood

Now that we’ve covered the subtle differences between these words for to tryin Spanish, let’s move on to our conjugation charts for probar, tratar,and intentar. We’ll start with the indicative mood.

Simple tenses: Present tense

The first tense we’ll look at in our conjugation of probar, tratar,and intentaris the simple present tense. Note the irregular probarconjugation, with its stem changes from-oto -ue.

SubjectProbarTratarIntentar
Yopruebotratointento
pruebastratasintentas
Él, Ella, Ustedpruebatratanintenta
Nosotros, Nosotrasprobamostratamosintentamos
Vosotros, Vosotrasprobáistratáisintentáis
Ellos, Ellas, Ustedespruebantratanintentan
  • Siempre pruebola comida antes de servirla. – I always tastethe food before serving it.
  • Los niños tratan deresolver el problema matemático. – The kids try tosolve the math problem.
  • Intentamosirnos a dormir temprano pero no podemos. – We try togo to bed early, but we can’t.

Simple tenses: Imperfect past tense

Let’s continue with our probarconjugation, tratarconjugation, and intentarconjugation, this time in the imperfect past tense. In this tense, all three verbs demonstrate regular conjugation patterns.

SubjectProbarTratarIntentar
Yoprobabatratabaintentaba
probabastratabasintentabas
Él, Ella, Ustedprobabatratabaintentaba
Nosotros, Nosotrasprobábamostratábamosintentábamos
Vosotros, Vosotrasprobabáistratabáisintentabáis
Ellos, Ellas, Ustedesprobabantratabanintentaban
  • When I was at the mall, I tried onall the clothes. – Cuando estaba en el centro comercial me probabatoda la ropa.
  • Tratábamosde aprendernos la lección en diez minutos pero era imposible. – We tried tolearn the lesson in ten minutes, but it was impossible.
  • Damián intentabadejar de comer grasas pero siempre algún amigo le convidaba papas fritas. – Damián was trying tocut down on fats but a friend would always offer him fries.

Simple tenses: Preterite tense

Our other simple past tense in Spanish is the preterite. In this tense as well, we have it easy with regular endings for probarconjugation, tratarconjugation, and intentarconjugation.

SubjectProbarTratarIntentar
Yoprobétratéintenté
probastetratasteintentaste
Él, Ella, Ustedprobótratóintentó
Nosotros, Nosotrasprobamostratamosintentamos
Vosotros, Vosotrasprobabasteistratasteisintentasteis
Ellos, Ellas, Ustedesprobarontrataronintentaron
  • Ayer probamostu torta de chocolate y estaba deliciosa. – Yesterday we tastedyour chocolate cake, and it was delicious.
  • El profesor tratóde corregir todos los exámenes pero solo corrigió la mitad. – The teacher attempted tocorrect all the exams, but he only managed to correct half of them.
  • Melina intentódecirme la verdad pero no pudo. – Melinatried totell me the truth, but she couldn’t.

Simple tenses: Future

Here’s our probar, tratar, and intentarconjugation chart for the simple future tense. Here too, all three of our Spanish verbs have regular endings.

SubjectProbarTratarIntentar
Yoprobarétrataréintentaré
probarástratarásintentarás
Él, Ella, Ustedprobarátrataráintentará
Nosotros, Nosotrasprobaremostrataremosintentaremos
Vosotros, Vosotrasprobaréistrataréisintentaréis
Ellos, Ellas, Ustedesprobarántrataránintentarán
  • Primero probaránel vino y luego la comida. – First they will tastethe wine, and then the food.
  • Dijeron que trataránla enfermedad rápidamente. – They told us theywill curethe disease quickly.
  • Intentaránconvencerte de que vayas con ellos. – They will attempt toconvince you to go with them.

Simple tenses: Conditional

When you want to use one of these Spanish to try verbs to express possibility or probability, or to soften a request kindly, the conditional tenseis your best bet. All three of our verbs exhibit regular endings in this tense.

SubjectProbarTratarIntentar
Yoprobaríatrataríaintentaría
probaríastrataríasintentarías
Él, Ella, Ustedprobaríatrataríaintentaría
Nosotros, Nosotrasprobaríamostrataríamosintentaríamos
Vosotros, Vosotrasprobaríaistrataríaisintentaríais
Ellos, Ellas, Ustedesprobaríantrataríanintentarían
  • Si el vestido fuera azul me lo probaría. – If the dress were blue, I would tryit on.
  • Si fuera tu novia, ¿trataríasde cambiarme? – If I were your girlfriend, would youtryto change me?
  • Si pudiera, intentaríano mirarte. – If I could, I would trynot tolook at you.

Compound tenses: Present perfect

Now we’re ready to get into our compound tenses in the indicative mood, starting with the present perfect tense. As you can see, the past participlesare regularfor all three of our verbs: probado, tratado, and intentado.

SubjectProbarTratarIntentar
Yohe probadohe tratadohe intentado
has probadohas tratadohas intentado
Él, Ella, Ustedha probadoha tratadoha intentado
Nosotros, Nosotrashemos probadohemos tratadohemos intentado
Vosotros, Vosotrashabéis probadohabéis tratadohabéis intentado
Ellos, Ellas, Ustedeshan probadohan tratadohan intentado
  • Ya hemos probadocon todas las soluciones posibles. – We havealready triedall of the possible solutions.
  • Siempre la hemos tratado dehacer lo mejor. – We havealways tried todo our best.
  • Marcela ha intentadoestudiar pero los niños la han interrumpido mucho. – Marcela has tried tostudy, but the kids have interrupted her a lot.

Compound tenses: Past perfect

Here we present you with our probarconjugations, tratarconjugations, and intentarconjugations in the past perfect tense.

SubjectProbarTratarIntentar
Yohabía probadohabíatratadohabía intentado
habías probadohabías tratadohabías intentado
Él, Ella, Ustedhabía probadohabía tratadohabía intentado
Nosotros, Nosotrashabíamos probadohabíamos tratadohabíamos intentado
Vosotros, Vosotrashabíais probadohabíais tratadohabíais intentado
Ellos, Ellas, Ustedeshabían probadohabían tratadohabían intentado
  • Los médicos habían probado con todas las medicinas pero ninguna funcionaba. – The doctors had triedwith many medicines, but none of them worked.
  • Los nativos habían tratado dehablar más lento. – The natives had tried tospeak slower.
  • Los chicos habían intentadollamar a sus padres sin éxito. – The kids had tried tocall their parents, with no success.

Compound tenses: Future perfect

Let’s move on to our compound conjugations of probar, tratar, and intentar, this time in the future perfect tense.

SubjectProbarTratarIntentar
Yohabré probadohabré tratadohabré intentado
habrás probadohabrás tratadohabrás intentado
Él, Ella, Ustedhabrá probadohabrá tratadohabrá intentado
Nosotros, Nosotrashabremos probadohabremos tratadohabremos intentado
Vosotros, Vosotrashabráis probadohabráis tratadohabráis intentado
Ellos, Ellas, Ustedeshabrán probadohabrán tratadohabrán intentado
  • Para cuando cocines el pollo yohabré probadola ensalada. – By the time you’ve cooked the chicken I will have triedthe salad.
  • Después de tantos días habrás tratadode escapar varias veces. – After so many days, you will have tried toescape many times.
  • Lo habremos intentadotodo antes de rendirnos. – We will have triedit all before giving up.

Compound tenses: Conditional perfect

We’ll wrap up our indicative conjugations of probar, tratar, and intentar with the perfect conditional tense.

SubjectProbarTratarIntentar
Yohabría probadohabría tratadohabría intentado
habrías probadohabrías tratadohabrías intentado
Él, Ella, Ustedhabría probadohabría tratadohabría intentado
Nosotros, Nosotrashabríamos probadohabríamos tratadohabríamos intentado
Vosotros, Vosotrashabríais probadohabríais tratadohabríais intentado
Ellos, Ellas, Ustedeshabrían probadohabrían tratadohabrían intentado
  • Si me hubieras convidado la hamburguesa la habría probado. – Had you offered, I would have tastedyour burger.
  • Susy habría tratado convencerte si te hubiera visto. – Susy would have tried toconvince you if she had seen you.
  • Habríamos intentadoayudarlo si lo hubiera pedido. – We would have tried tohelp him if he had asked.

Probar, Tratar, and Intentar Conjugation: Subjunctive Mood

Now that we’ve covered all of the tenses in the indicative mood, let’s move on to the subjunctive mood.

Simple tenses: Present subjunctive

We’ll start with the present subjunctive. This is another tense where the irregular probar conjugationexhibits the same stem changesthat we saw in the simple present tense. As always, the tratarconjugations and intentarconjugations follow the patterns of regular Spanish -ar verbs.

SubjectProbarTratarIntentar
Yopruebetrateintente
pruebestratesintentes
Él, Ella, Ustedpruebetrateintente
Nosotros, Nosotrasprobemostratemosintentemos
Vosotros, Vosotrasprobéistratéisintentéis
Ellos, Ellas, Ustedespruebentratenintenten
  • Es probable que pruebe el coche un tiempo antes de comprarlo. – I will probably testthe car for a while before buying it.
  • Quizá tratende decirnos algo. – They mighttry totell us something.
  • No creo que intenten solucionar el problema tan rápido. – I don’t think they’ll try tosolve the problem so fast.

In all three of these examples, the subjunctive was triggered by specific words and phrases. We introduce a ton of these in our post on subjunctive trigger words in Spanish.

Simple tenses: Imperfect subjunctive

Now it’s time for the imperfect subjunctiveconjugations. We’re back to a regular probar conjugationin this tense, matching the endings for both tratarconjugation and intentar conjugation. This tense has two forms that are considered correct, so you can choose the one that you like!

SubjectProbarTratarIntentar
Yoprobara / probasetratara / trataseintentara / intentase
probaras / probasestrataras / tratasesintentaras / intentases
Él, Ella, Ustedprobara / probasetratara / trataseintentara / intentase
Nosotros, Nosotrasprobáramos / probásemostratáremos / tratásemosintentáremos / intentásemos
Vosotros, Vosotrasprobarais / probaseistratarais / tratareisintentarais / intentareis
Ellos, Ellas, Ustedesprobaran / probarentrataran / tratarenintentaran / intentaren
  • A tu hija no le gustó que probaraslas costillas porque es vegana. – Your daughter didn’t like that you tastedthe ribs, because she’s vegan.
  • Si tan solo no tratara devenderme algo siempre, iría a visitarla. – If only she wouldn’talways try tosell me something, I would visit her.
  • Sería bueno que intentásemosestar juntos de nuevo. – It would be great if weattempted tobe together again.

Compound tenses: Present perfect subjunctive

Now we’re back to our compound tenses, where you’ll recognize the past participles again: probado, tratado, and intentado. Our first compound subjunctive tense is the present perfect subjunctive.

SubjectProbarTratarIntentar
Yohaya probadohaya tratadohaya intentado
hayas probadohayas tratadohayas intentado
Él, Ella, Ustedhaya probadohayan tratadohaya intentado
Nosotros, Nosotrashayamos probadohayamos tratadohayamos intentado
Vosotros, Vosotrashayáis probadohayáis tratadohayáis intentado
Ellos, Ellas, Ustedeshayan probadohayan tratadohayan intentado
  • Estuvo muy bien que hayas probadotomar clases de yoga. – It was great that youhad triedto take yoga classes.
  • Me alegra que haya tratadode mejorar su habilidad lectora. – I’m pleased that shehad tried toimprove her reading capacity.
  • Dudo quehaya intentadodejar de fumar el año pasado. – I doubt that he attempted toquit smoking last year.

Compound tenses: Past perfect subjunctive

Last but not least, let’s focus on the past perfect subjunctiveconjugation of probar, tratar, and intentar. Note that since the auxiliary verb of this tense is conjugated in the imperfect subjunctive, it can have two different variants.

SubjectProbarTratarIntentar
Yohubiera / hubiese probadohubiera / hubiese tratadohubiera / hubiese intentado
hubieras / hubieses probadohubieras / hubieses tratadohubieras / hubieses intentado
Él, Ella, Ustedhubiera / hubiese probadohubiera / hubiese tratadohubiera / hubiese intentado
Nosotros, Nosotrashubiéramos / hubiésemos probadohubiéramos / hubiésemos tratadohubiéramos / hubiésemos intentado
Vosotros, Vosotrashubierais / hubieseis probadohubierais / hubieseis tratadohubierais / hubieseis intentado
Ellos, Ellas, Ustedeshubieran / hubiesen probadohubieran / hubiesen tratadohubieran / hubiesen intentado
  • Si hubiéramos probadocaminar descalzos por el césped nos habríamos sentido mejor. – If we had triedwalking barefoot on the grass, we would have felt better.
  • Posiblemente hubiera tratadode llamarte pero sé que nunca me atiendes. – Perhaps I would have triedto call you, but I know you never take my calls.
  • No sé si Juan hubiera intentadocomprendernos. – I don’t know if Juan would have triedto understand us.

Probar, Tratar and Intentar Conjugation: Imperative Mood

The imperative mood is the command form, for when we want to give an order or suggest something.

Note that when giving negative commands to , we use the present subjunctive conjugation rather than the imperative conjugation. We note both forms in the conjugation chart here.

This final tense is another where we see the irregular probar conjugations, again with the same stem changewe saw in the present indicative and present subjunctive. Our tratarconjugation and intentarconjugation continue to follow the regular patterns.

SubjectProbarTratarIntentar
prueba / no pruebestrata / no tratesintenta / no intentes
Ustedpruebetrateintente
Nosotros, Nosotrasprobemostratemosintentemos
Vosotros, Vosotrasprobadtratadintentad
Ustedespruebentratenintenten
  • Pruebael pastel y verás lo rico que está. – Trythe cake and you’ll see how yummy it is.
  • Tratemosde ser amables con todos. – Let’s try tobe kind to everyone.
  • Por favor, intentenno hacer ruido. – Please folks, trynot tomake any noise.

Conclusion: To Try in Spanish

So far so good! Today we focused on the three common verbs that are all frequently translated asto tryin Spanish: probar, tratar,and intentar.

We started off looking at the nuances between these Spanish verbs, considering the other possible English translations for each one. We saw that probarmay mean to try, to try on, to taste, orto test. Tratar, on the other hand, can be translated as to try to, to attempt to, to address, to treat, or to cure. Finally, intentarhas the nuance of intention, translated as to try toor to attempt to.

Then we got into our full conjugation charts for probar, tratar, and intentar. We presented all of the Spanish moods and tenses, complete with links to full lessons on each one. Building on our first section where we looked at the meanings of probar, tratar, and intentar, we provided examples with these verbs in every tense for you to see them used in additional contexts.

As far as the conjugations are concerned, you’ve hopefully seen that they’re pretty straightforward: both tratarand intentarare regular -ar verbs, while probaronly has irregular forms in three tenses.

With this in mind, why not finish your lesson today with a bit of conjugation practice? We’re sure the following exercises will be a piece of cake for you! ¿Por qué no lo intentas? – Why don’t you give it a try?

Probar, Intentar, and Tratar: Conjugation Exercises

Fill in the blank with the correct probar, intentar,and tratarconjugation corresponding to the mood and tense indicated in parentheses. The answers and translations are below.

1. Yo _____ estudiar pero no tuve ganas. (intentar, indicative, preterite)

2. Nosotros _____ aprender japonés pero es muy difícil. (intentar, indicative, present)

3. Si _____ de hacer la tarea más rápido, podríamos salir al parque antes. (tratar, subjunctive, imperfect)

4. Es muy bueno que ustedes _____ de poner su propia empresa. (tratar, subjunctive, present)

5. Martín, ¿ _____ el asado o el mate? (probar, indicative, conditional)

6. Ya nos _____ los zapatos, solo nos falta probarnos el vestido. (probar, indicative, preterite)

7. Ellos solo _____ ayudar a Pedro pero el se enojó. (intentar, indicative, past perfect)

8. Si por lo menos lo _____, quizá habríamos aprobado examen. (intentar, subjunctive, past perfect)

9. No te _____ tanta ropa en el centro comercial, me da vergüenza. (probar, imperative, tú)

10. Nosotros _____ de llegar temprano mañana. (intentar, indicative, future)

Answers

1. Yo intentéestudiar pero no tuve ganas. – I attempted tostudy but I didn’t feel like it.

2. Nosotros intentamosaprender japonés pero es muy difícil. – We tried tolearn Japanese but it’s very difficult.

3. Si tratarasde hacer la tarea más rápido, podríamos salir al parque antes. – If you tried todo your homework faster, we would be able to go to the park earlier.

4. Es muy bueno que ustedes tratende poner su propia empresa. – It’s cool that you try toset up your own business.

5. Martín, ¿probaríasel asado o el mate? – Martín, wouldyou tastethe barbecue or the maté?

6. Ya nos probamoslos zapatos, solo nos falta probarnos el vestido. – We already tried onthe shoes, we only need to try the dress on.

7. Ellos solo habían intentadoayudar a Pedro pero el se enojó. – They hadjust triedto give Pedro some help, but he got mad.

8. Si por lo menos lo hubiéramos intentado, quizá habríamos aprobado el examen. – If only we had triedit, we might have passed the test.

9. Note pruebestanta ropa en el centro comercial, me da vergüenza. – Don’t try onso many clothes at the shopping center, you embarrass me.

10. Nosotros intentaremosde llegar temprano mañana. – We will try toarrive early tomorrow.

To Try in Spanish: Probar, Tratar, or Intentar? (with conjugations) (2024)

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