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Situation: Someone needs my help with a technical problem (via TeamViewer session) and sent me an outlook invitation for a date where I'm officially not in office. Because of my absence notification he then rescheduled the appointment.

Is it proper English if I answer:

Thanks for rescheduling, but to be honest I’d rather avail myself of not being in office on January 4th and get this done without disturbance.

Is my use of "avail myself of ..." ok here? If not, could you give an example where "avail myself of ..." would be appropriate and elaborate on why it's not appropriate in my case? I'd also be happy to see my sentence rephrased so that it appeals to a native speaker.

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    Why not just say, "Thanks for rescheduling, but to be honest I'd rather just do it remotely on the 4th so we can get this done without disturbance." – Jim Dec 21 '15 at 20:40
  • @Jim: Thanks for your advice. I edited my question and hope it's less off-topic now. Questions about word usage are ok, aren't they? – Eva Baentsch Dec 21 '15 at 20:52
  • I think you are saying, "I normally would do this via remote TeamViewer session, but since I'm out of the office (i.e. not working) on January 4, I don't want to be disturbed at all, including in person or via TeamViewer, until after I am back in the office (i.e. after January 4)." Is that the correct interpretation? If so, we can find the best way to answer your question about "avail myself of." – Nonnal Dec 21 '15 at 21:29
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    @Nonnal: Sorry, but that's not at all what I wanted to say. The session would be a Team Viewer session in any case. However I have an absence notification that says I'll be back on 11th, so the other person rescheduled our appointment for 11th. What I wanted to say is that even though I'm not in the office on 4th I can still do the team viewer session on that day. In fact I'd even prefer to do it on 4th, because 11th will be very busy and many people will address me with various issues, which is a huge distraction. – Eva Baentsch Dec 21 '15 at 21:55
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    @EvaBaentsch Thanks for the clarification. In that case, the thing you are "availing yourself of" (taking advantage of) is your availability on the 4th, so you could say, "...to be honest I'd rather avail myself of the opportunity to troubleshoot your issue without disturbance on the 4th than wait until I'm officially back at work." – Nonnal Dec 21 '15 at 21:58
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Short answer: No, it is not.

Long answer: "Avail myself of" means to "take advantage of" or "use". Some example usages would be:

  • Please avail yourself of the resources available from our help center.
  • I availed myself of the opportunity to speak to her while she was in town.

I think it's almost always used with words like "opportunity", "resource", or "chance": something that is not yet taken, but can be taken, and therefore you should take advantage of it.

(This seems slightly different to me from the actual phrase "take advantage of", because you can take advantage of "the fact" or "the time" or "the situation" and the time/timeline of events is not really as important.)

You might still be able use it in your response somehow, depending on what you mean to say, but the construction given sounds very odd. I (again) think it's partly because "not being in office" doesn't really sound like something especially advantageous or disadvantageous but mostly because it's already a fact, not a future chance.

Do you mean "I do not want to reschedule"? When do you want to get this done--on January 4th (when you're out) or on another date? Are you saying you want to do it over TeamViewer while you're out instead of rescheduling? If the last one, then I don't see a way for you to use "avail myself of" in that form of the sentence. A way to rewrite it would be

Thanks for rescheduling, but to be honest I’d rather take advantage of not being in office on January 4th to get this done without disturbance.

But Jim's suggestion is much better than that one because it makes clear all the details about the date and your reasoning. Nonnal's allows you to keep "avail...", but requires a little shuffling about of the sentence.

Related question: To avail oneself of an opportunity

  • Thank you for this verbose answer. To answer your questions about my intent: I don't want to reschedule. I want to do it on 4th even though I'm not at my workplace on that day. I consider being not at my workplace advantageous, because that way I'll be undisturbed. Your suggested rewrite is great. Also your explanation on why my original version sounds odd. – Eva Baentsch Dec 21 '15 at 22:04
  • :/ I know it's longish, but I often feel like my answers are too short, so I try to add more depth when I'm able in order to explore the answer more and hopefully make it more useful to the asker. That was the reason for writing as much as I did. Yes, that is clearer now, thank you. In that case, you have many good suggested rewrites to choose from. – Yee-Lum Dec 21 '15 at 22:06
  • 'Verbose' has a negative connotation? Your reply to my comment suggests it does, but I meant it as a compliment. – Eva Baentsch Dec 21 '15 at 22:08
  • Yes, "verbose" means "too wordy" (see definition), so it's negative in that it means the person should really have used fewer words to make their point. I can't think of a positive synonym for "verbose", but "detailed" or "in-depth" could fit the bill here. In that case, thanks for the compliment! – Yee-Lum Dec 21 '15 at 23:02
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Putting aside potential objections to the phrase to avail oneself of, I think the object of to avail oneself of has to be a noun and not a gerund, so that, while you could say "avail myself of the chance not to be in the office ...," it does not work to say "avail myself of not being in the office ...."

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Actually, it's rather brilliant. Rather severe too. It's an extreme put-off, which you should reflect on carefully, because it will not be recovered from.

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Just to give another example of the way the same thing would be properly said (written) in my particular business environment: "...to be honest I’d rather take out-of-office time on January 4th in order to get this done without disturbance."

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    I think this would be better suited as a comment on the question rather than an answer. It is useful, and it's a good alternative response for the asker to consider, but it doesn't give an answer to the main questions, which are "Is this phrase OK?" and "If not, what is a sentence where this phrase could be used?" – Yee-Lum Dec 21 '15 at 21:55

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