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

To Try in Spanish: Probar, Intentar, Tratar

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The Spanish verbs probar, tratar, and intentar can all be translated as to try in 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 vs tratar vs intentar in 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 tratar and intentar are regular Spanish -ar verbs, whereas probar is 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 try verbs, 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 sentences with 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 intentar in Spanish!


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

Probar can 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, probar is the verb you need. Let’s take a look at a few examples, where probar may be translated variously as to try, to try on, to taste, or to test.

  • ¿Ya probaste los fideos que hice? – Have you already tasted the spaghetti I’ve made?
  • Pruébate este vestido. Te va a quedar perfecto. – Try this dress on. It will suit you perfectly.
  • Esta clave no funciona. Probemos con otra. – This password is not working. Let’s try another one.
  • La computadora ya está arreglada. La probamos muchas veces. – The computer is already fixed. We tested it many times.


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

Tratar is used when someone is attempting to perform an activity or making an effort to do 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 preposition that’s used with tratar. Where the subject of the sentence attempts some other action, the conjugated form of tratar is followed by de + infinitive of the other verb.

  • Por favor, trata de no reirte mientras te hablo. – Please, try not to laugh while I’m talking to you.
  • Tomás va a tratar de aprender japonés en dos meses. – Tomás is going to attempt to learn Japanese in two months.
  • Me trató de señor y me encantó. – She addressed me as Sir and I loved it.
  • El médico va a tratarte con flores de Bach. – The doctor is going to treat you with Bach flowers.


To try, To attempt to

Intentar is also used when we claim that we will attempt to do something or try to do something.

As you may notice, intentar and tratar are very similar in meaning. A subtle distinction is that intentar has to do more with the intention of doing something, while tratar means that you actually tried to do something.

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

  • Voy a intentar dejar de fumar. – I’ll try to quit smoking.
  • Ella intentó llegar a tiempo a la reunión pero no pudo. – She intended to arrive 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 try in 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 intentar is the simple present tense. Note the irregular probar conjugation, with its stem changes from -o to -ue.

Subject Probar Tratar Intentar
Yo pruebo trato intento
pruebas tratas intentas
Él, Ella, Usted prueba tratan intenta
Nosotros, Nosotras probamos tratamos intentamos
Vosotros, Vosotras probáis tratáis intentáis
Ellos, Ellas, Ustedes prueban tratan intentan
  • Siempre pruebo la comida antes de servirla. – I always taste the food before serving it.
  • Los niños tratan de resolver el problema matemático. – The kids try to solve the math problem.
  • Intentamos irnos a dormir temprano pero no podemos. – We try to go to bed early, but we can’t.

Simple tenses: Imperfect past tense

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

Subject Probar Tratar Intentar
Yo probaba trataba intentaba
probabas tratabas intentabas
Él, Ella, Usted probaba trataba intentaba
Nosotros, Nosotras probábamos tratábamos intentábamos
Vosotros, Vosotras probabáis tratabáis intentabáis
Ellos, Ellas, Ustedes probaban trataban intentaban
  • When I was at the mall, I tried on all the clothes. – Cuando estaba en el centro comercial me probaba toda la ropa.
  • Tratábamos de aprendernos la lección en diez minutos pero era imposible. – We tried to learn the lesson in ten minutes, but it was impossible.
  • Damián intentaba dejar de comer grasas pero siempre algún amigo le convidaba papas fritas. – Damián was trying to cut 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 probar conjugation, tratar conjugation, and intentar conjugation.

Subject Probar Tratar Intentar
Yo probé traté intenté
probaste trataste intentaste
Él, Ella, Usted probó trató intentó
Nosotros, Nosotras probamos tratamos intentamos
Vosotros, Vosotras probabasteis tratasteis intentasteis
Ellos, Ellas, Ustedes probaron trataron intentaron
  • Ayer probamos tu torta de chocolate y estaba deliciosa. – Yesterday we tasted your chocolate cake, and it was delicious.
  • El profesor trató de corregir todos los exámenes pero solo corrigió la mitad. – The teacher attempted to correct all the exams, but he only managed to correct half of them.
  • Melina intentó decirme la verdad pero no pudo. – Melina tried to tell me the truth, but she couldn’t.

Simple tenses: Future

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

Subject Probar Tratar Intentar
Yo probaré trataré intentaré
probarás tratarás intentarás
Él, Ella, Usted probará tratará intentará
Nosotros, Nosotras probaremos trataremos intentaremos
Vosotros, Vosotras probaréis trataréis intentaréis
Ellos, Ellas, Ustedes probarán tratarán intentarán
  • Primero probarán el vino y luego la comida. – First they will taste the wine, and then the food.
  • Dijeron que tratarán la enfermedad rápidamente. – They told us they will cure the disease quickly.
  • Intentarán convencerte de que vayas con ellos. – They will attempt to convince 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 tense is your best bet. All three of our verbs exhibit regular endings in this tense.

Subject Probar Tratar Intentar
Yo probaría trataría intentaría
probarías tratarías intentarías
Él, Ella, Usted probaría trataría intentaría
Nosotros, Nosotras probaríamos trataríamos intentaríamos
Vosotros, Vosotras probaríais trataríais intentaríais
Ellos, Ellas, Ustedes probarían tratarían intentarían
  • Si el vestido fuera azul me lo probaría. – If the dress were blue, I would try it on.
  • Si fuera tu novia, ¿tratarías de cambiarme? – If I were your girlfriend, would you try to change me?
  • Si pudiera, intentaría no mirarte. – If I could, I would try not to look 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 participles are regular for all three of our verbs: probado, tratado, and intentado.

Subject Probar Tratar Intentar
Yo he probado he tratado he intentado
has probado has tratado has intentado
Él, Ella, Usted ha probado ha tratado ha intentado
Nosotros, Nosotras hemos probado hemos tratado hemos intentado
Vosotros, Vosotras habéis probado habéis tratado habéis intentado
Ellos, Ellas, Ustedes han probado han tratado han intentado
  • Ya hemos probado con todas las soluciones posibles. – We have already tried all of the possible solutions.
  • Siempre la hemos tratado de hacer lo mejor. – We have always tried to do our best.
  • Marcela ha intentado estudiar pero los niños la han interrumpido mucho. – Marcela has tried to study, but the kids have interrupted her a lot.

Compound tenses: Past perfect

Here we present you with our probar conjugations, tratar conjugations, and intentar conjugations in the past perfect tense.

Subject Probar Tratar Intentar
Yo había probado había tratado había intentado
habías probado habías tratado habías intentado
Él, Ella, Usted había probado había tratado había intentado
Nosotros, Nosotras habíamos probado habíamos tratado habíamos intentado
Vosotros, Vosotras habíais probado habíais tratado habíais intentado
Ellos, Ellas, Ustedes habían probado habían tratado habían intentado
  • Los médicos habían probado con todas las medicinas pero ninguna funcionaba. – The doctors had tried with many medicines, but none of them worked.
  • Los nativos habían tratado de hablar más lento. – The natives had tried to speak slower.
  • Los chicos habían intentado llamar a sus padres sin éxito. – The kids had tried to call 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.

Subject Probar Tratar Intentar
Yo habré probado habré tratado habré intentado
habrás probado habrás tratado habrás intentado
Él, Ella, Usted habrá probado habrá tratado habrá intentado
Nosotros, Nosotras habremos probado habremos tratado habremos intentado
Vosotros, Vosotras habráis probado habráis tratado habráis intentado
Ellos, Ellas, Ustedes habrán probado habrán tratado habrán intentado
  • Para cuando cocines el pollo yo habré probado la ensalada. – By the time you’ve cooked the chicken I will have tried the salad.
  • Después de tantos días habrás tratado de escapar varias veces. – After so many days, you will have tried to escape many times.
  • Lo habremos intentado todo antes de rendirnos. – We will have tried it 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.

Subject Probar Tratar Intentar
Yo habría probado habría tratado habría intentado
habrías probado habrías tratado habrías intentado
Él, Ella, Usted habría probado habría tratado habría intentado
Nosotros, Nosotras habríamos probado habríamos tratado habríamos intentado
Vosotros, Vosotras habríais probado habríais tratado habríais intentado
Ellos, Ellas, Ustedes habrían probado habrían tratado habrían intentado
  • Si me hubieras convidado la hamburguesa la habría probado. – Had you offered, I would have tasted your burger.
  • Susy habría tratado convencerte si te hubiera visto. – Susy would have tried to convince you if she had seen you.
  • Habríamos intentado ayudarlo si lo hubiera pedido. – We would have tried to help 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 conjugation exhibits the same stem changes that we saw in the simple present tense. As always, the tratar conjugations and intentar conjugations follow the patterns of regular Spanish -ar verbs.

Subject Probar Tratar Intentar
Yo pruebe trate intente
pruebes trates intentes
Él, Ella, Usted pruebe trate intente
Nosotros, Nosotras probemos tratemos intentemos
Vosotros, Vosotras probéis tratéis intentéis
Ellos, Ellas, Ustedes prueben traten intenten
  • Es probable que pruebe el coche un tiempo antes de comprarlo. – I will probably test the car for a while before buying it.
  • Quizá traten de decirnos algo. – They might try to tell us something.
  • No creo que intenten solucionar el problema tan rápido. – I don’t think they’ll try to solve 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 subjunctive conjugations. We’re back to a regular probar conjugation in this tense, matching the endings for both tratar conjugation and intentar conjugation. This tense has two forms that are considered correct, so you can choose the one that you like!

Subject Probar Tratar Intentar
Yo probara / probase tratara / tratase intentara / intentase
probaras / probases trataras / tratases intentaras / intentases
Él, Ella, Usted probara / probase tratara / tratase intentara / intentase
Nosotros, Nosotras probáramos / probásemos tratáremos / tratásemos intentáremos / intentásemos
Vosotros, Vosotras probarais / probaseis tratarais / tratareis intentarais / intentareis
Ellos, Ellas, Ustedes probaran / probaren trataran / trataren intentaran / intentaren
  • A tu hija no le gustó que probaras las costillas porque es vegana. – Your daughter didn’t like that you tasted the ribs, because she’s vegan.
  • Si tan solo no tratara de venderme algo siempre, iría a visitarla. – If only she wouldn’t always try to sell me something, I would visit her.
  • Sería bueno que intentásemos estar juntos de nuevo. – It would be great if we attempted to be 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.

Subject Probar Tratar Intentar
Yo haya probado haya tratado haya intentado
hayas probado hayas tratado hayas intentado
Él, Ella, Usted haya probado hayan tratado haya intentado
Nosotros, Nosotras hayamos probado hayamos tratado hayamos intentado
Vosotros, Vosotras hayáis probado hayáis tratado hayáis intentado
Ellos, Ellas, Ustedes hayan probado hayan tratado hayan intentado
  • Estuvo muy bien que hayas probado tomar clases de yoga. – It was great that you had tried to take yoga classes.
  • Me alegra que haya tratado de mejorar su habilidad lectora. – I’m pleased that she had tried to improve her reading capacity.
  • Dudo que haya intentado dejar de fumar el año pasado. – I doubt that he attempted to quit smoking last year.

Compound tenses: Past perfect subjunctive

Last but not least, let’s focus on the past perfect subjunctive conjugation 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.

Subject Probar Tratar Intentar
Yo hubiera / hubiese probado hubiera / hubiese tratado hubiera / hubiese intentado
hubieras / hubieses probado hubieras / hubieses tratado hubieras / hubieses intentado
Él, Ella, Usted hubiera / hubiese probado hubiera / hubiese tratado hubiera / hubiese intentado
Nosotros, Nosotras hubiéramos / hubiésemos probado hubiéramos / hubiésemos tratado hubiéramos / hubiésemos intentado
Vosotros, Vosotras hubierais / hubieseis probado hubierais / hubieseis tratado hubierais / hubieseis intentado
Ellos, Ellas, Ustedes hubieran / hubiesen probado hubieran / hubiesen tratado hubieran / hubiesen intentado
  • Si hubiéramos probado caminar descalzos por el césped nos habríamos sentido mejor. – If we had tried walking barefoot on the grass, we would have felt better.
  • Posiblemente hubiera tratado de llamarte pero sé que nunca me atiendes. – Perhaps I would have tried to call you, but I know you never take my calls.
  • No sé si Juan hubiera intentado comprendernos. – I don’t know if Juan would have tried to 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 change we saw in the present indicative and present subjunctive. Our tratar conjugation and intentar conjugation continue to follow the regular patterns.

Subject Probar Tratar Intentar
prueba / no pruebes trata / no trates intenta / no intentes
Usted pruebe trate intente
Nosotros, Nosotras probemos tratemos intentemos
Vosotros, Vosotras probad tratad intentad
Ustedes prueben traten intenten
  • Prueba el pastel y verás lo rico que está. – Try the cake and you’ll see how yummy it is.
  • Tratemos de ser amables con todos. – Let’s try to be kind to everyone.
  • Por favor, intenten no hacer ruido. – Please folks, try not to make any noise.

Conclusion: To Try in Spanish

So far so good! Today we focused on the three common verbs that are all frequently translated as to try in 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 probar may mean to try, to try on, to taste, or to test. Tratar, on the other hand, can be translated as to try to, to attempt to, to address, to treat, or to cure. Finally, intentar has the nuance of intention, translated as to try to or 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 tratar and intentar are regular -ar verbs, while probar only 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 tratar conjugation 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)


1. Yo intenté estudiar pero no tuve ganas. – I attempted to study but I didn’t feel like it.

2. Nosotros intentamos aprender japonés pero es muy difícil. – We tried to learn Japanese but it’s very difficult.

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

4. Es muy bueno que ustedes traten de poner su propia empresa. – It’s cool that you try to set up your own business.

5. Martín, ¿probarías el asado o el mate? – Martín, would you taste the barbecue or the maté?

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

7. Ellos solo habían intentado ayudar a Pedro pero el se enojó. – They had just tried to 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 tried it, we might have passed the test.

9. No te pruebes tanta ropa en el centro comercial, me da vergüenza. – Don’t try on so many clothes at the shopping center, you embarrass me.

10. Nosotros intentaremos de llegar temprano mañana. – We will try to arrive early tomorrow.


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