Is there a difference? Both versions are common.

If there is a difference, which do I use when, and why?

  • I should have asked something with: negation vs. not – Stephan Schielke Dec 2 '11 at 0:09
  • I think you need to clarify your question; I assumed you were asking the difference between 'temporarily unavailable' and 'not available', rather than the difference between 'temporarily unavailable' and 'temporarily not available' which seems to be the case. – Stuart Allen Dec 2 '11 at 0:13

Grammatically they are interchangeable. The very definition of "unavailable" is "not available". However, my gut tells me something else. When I see 'unavailable' it immediately connotes that it's a temporary condition:

The senator was unavailable for comment. He may be available later.

The web page was unavailable all afternoon. But then it came back online.

Whereas when I see 'not available' it implies to me that it's a stronger or more permanent situation. Maybe because of the emphasized not?

This service is not available in New York. And it's not likely to be any time soon.

The web page is not available outside the company. Because it's private.

While you could legitimately substitute "not available" for "unavailable" in those examples (and vice-versa), I wouldn't.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    If google has any credibility, it backs you up there. "Not available at any price" gets 4000K hits against only 152K for the un- version, and I'd say "at any price" usually implies permanence. For a more temporary context, "Not available today" gets only 108K hits, but the un- version there gets 166K. That looks like a huge switch based purely on the likelihood of future availability. – FumbleFingers Dec 2 '11 at 4:22

Both are perfectly valid, but I would take issue with the implications of OP's "Both versions are common" - relatively speaking, they're not...

enter image description here

In short, unavailable is the standard form. But noting OP's comment regarding negation vs. not, I suggest that, for example...

This service is not available to our viewers in Northern Ireland.

...is normally preferred over...

**This service is unavailable to our viewers in Northern Ireland*.

Both OP's versions mean exactly the same, but as @Lynn says, the reason "un-" is more common is because it's temporary. With something more "permanent", like my example above, or the more extreme "Not available at any price", the "un-" version is actually significantly less common.

| improve this answer | |

They both mean the same, they are just different constructions.

Temporarily unavailable seems "lighter", as it contains only 2 words, whereas temporarily not available contains 3, which are redundant, as unavailable is a grammatical word which bears all the required meaning.

Use less words, be easier and faster to understand.

| improve this answer | |

Unavailable is something never will be available.
And not available is something is not available right now, but next with some health will be available.

| improve this answer | |
  • A quick search provides a lot of uses of "temporarily unavailable". So, either the whole world is wrong, or you are. – Em1 Aug 26 '14 at 11:44

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.