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My colleagues in India frequently use "avail" to mean "use" or "take advantage of" as in the following example:

Avail our special offer for this event.

I have never seen "avail" used in the manner; and judging by Merriam-Webster, I shouldn't be seeing it now :-) But I am, so I'd like to know what I might be missing.

Note: British English is the dialect my colleagues are most familiar with.

Thanks in advance.

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  • 2
    It's normally used as avail yourself of so avail yourself of our special offer ... would be fine.
    – Frank
    Feb 9, 2015 at 19:04
  • Thanks, Frank. That's how I've heard it, too. ...Would I be overstating matters to say that the usage in my example above is "wrong" or "grammatically incorrect"?
    – Rex
    Feb 9, 2015 at 19:08
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    I don't know about grammatical but your sentence avail our special offer ... just isn't a form that I've ever heard avail used in. I don't think you'd be overstating it if you said it was very unusual.
    – Frank
    Feb 9, 2015 at 19:14
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    Your colleagues might avail themselves of an English dictionary, too. :-)
    – user98990
    Feb 9, 2015 at 19:19
  • In all the dictionaries I've checked in, transitive avail is defined as 'be of use / benefit / value ... to' not 'take advantage of' / 'make use of'. The idiomatic 'avail oneself of' is defined separately in the better treatments. Feb 9, 2015 at 19:24

2 Answers 2

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This is an example of Indianism. vs avail yourself of our special offer.

Avail our special offer for this event.

This "avail" here is context dependent and could mean "get". (or "use" or "take advantage of")

The noun poses no problems. It is used most frequently in the phrases of no avail (his efforts were of no avail), to no avail (he tried the key but to no avail), etc.

An Indianism is an English word or phrase used in India that is not acceptable in BrE or AmE.

Some examples that you may frequent regularly :

  • 'Kindly revert'- using the word revert to mean reply or respond.
  • 'Discuss about'
  • I am having a headache
  • To Take Tension- to feel concerned or nervous .
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    Now we're umpteen nations divided by a common language. These are not acceptable in the English considered standard in the UK. Feb 9, 2015 at 19:32
  • @Mysti Sinha, thanks for confirming "avail" as an Indianism.
    – Rex
    Feb 9, 2015 at 20:24
  • @Edwin Ashworth, good point. I should have added that my question is in the context of standard U.S. English.
    – Rex
    Feb 9, 2015 at 20:27
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    I've also seen "do the needful" used unironically.
    – Kevin
    Feb 9, 2015 at 21:09
  • In Indian usage, this seems to be very like the Mexican Spanish verb aprovechar, usually translated as "take advantage of". I well recall loudspeakers in front of stores exhorting ¡Aproveche ese oportunidad! Mar 2, 2015 at 16:24
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You are better off just ditching avail altogether and saying

Help yourself to our special offer.

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  • I agree, @Robusto. But is it "wrong"? As in, "grammatically wrong."
    – Rex
    Feb 9, 2015 at 19:25
  • It is grammatically wrong not to use it with the reflexive pronoun, and it is stylistically wrong otherwise.
    – Robusto
    Feb 9, 2015 at 19:27
  • Why would it better to change avail yourself of to help yourself to? Have we reached Idiocracy already? (imdb.com/title/tt0387808 )
    – Frank
    Feb 9, 2015 at 19:32
  • @Frank Do you still say 'It is I'? No less an expert than Pullum says that this is ludicrous. Feb 9, 2015 at 19:35
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    @EdwinAshworth That I do. Are you suggesting avail yourself of is, or is becoming, obsolete?
    – Frank
    Feb 9, 2015 at 19:40

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