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... Uncle Vernon brought out a bottle of brandy. "Can I tempt you, Marge?" Aunt Marge had already had quite a lot of wine.

In this context, Uncle Vernon said it to offer some brandy to Marge. I'd like to know if this sentence/phrase is common. Is it regional? Can we use it in other contexts as well? I think the sentence might have some other connotations, and especially the word 'tempt' might evoke something sexual.

2

Can I tempt you? is something of a commonplace when the thing offered is understood to be a "guilty pleasure", such as a piece of chocolate, a slice of cake, or a glass of brandy, almost anything really, if it has some kind of "richness" above and beyond the basic.

Can I tempt you with a cappuccino?

  • I saw "Can I tempt you to ..." from your link. Are both "to" and 'with' correct? – dan Nov 10 '18 at 13:38
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    Yes, both prepositions are used. With to it is an invitation to partake. With with the reference is to the thing to be partaken of. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Nov 10 '18 at 14:41
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No, it's not common. If anything, it's fairly pretentious.

Remember the Dursleys are very concerned about status and appearing "proper". Here Vernon is trying to act as if he was at an upper-class dinner party from 50 years ago. You wouldn't say this normally, except for comic effect.

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