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.

  • 2
    It's normally used as avail yourself of so avail yourself of our special offer ... would be fine. – Frank Feb 9 '15 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 '15 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 '15 at 19:14
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    Your colleagues might avail themselves of an English dictionary, too. :-) – user98990 Feb 9 '15 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. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 9 '15 at 19:24

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. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 9 '15 at 19:32
  • @Mysti Sinha, thanks for confirming "avail" as an Indianism. – Rex Feb 9 '15 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 '15 at 20:27
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    I've also seen "do the needful" used unironically. – Kevin Feb 9 '15 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! – John Lawler Mar 2 '15 at 16:24

You are better off just ditching avail altogether and saying

Help yourself to our special offer.

  • I agree, @Robusto. But is it "wrong"? As in, "grammatically wrong." – Rex Feb 9 '15 at 19:25
  • It is grammatically wrong not to use it with the reflexive pronoun, and it is stylistically wrong otherwise. – Robusto Feb 9 '15 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 '15 at 19:32
  • @Frank Do you still say 'It is I'? No less an expert than Pullum says that this is ludicrous. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 9 '15 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 '15 at 19:40

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