I know the different uses of the verb "avail":

1. He availed himself of the opportunity

2. She availed herself of the opportunity

The dictionary says the use is very formal and old fashioned.

But as teachers we can not dispense with its use.

For example, The number of Casual leaves availed ( the number of days used as paid leave) and the balance of the leave in the leave account

If the use of "avail" is old fashioned as in the sentences given above and the construction is lengthy, what is the the modern use in its place?

How can we overcome the problem of using such constructions?

Most Indians say "I availed the opportunity" which is wrong.

Can we say, I utilized the opportunity? or are there any other better expressions used by the native speakers?

  • There are possibly dozens of idioms that work the same as "avail oneself of an opportunity". I suspect teachers use this phrase out of habit rather than necessity. The real question is whether something like "take advantage of" is equally relatable among these same teachers, or whether it sounds strange.
    – Andrew
    Aug 29, 2019 at 16:14
  • Just follow the dictionary advice and avoid using the verb to avail at all. Your "leaves" example should be the number of Casual leaves available (or perhaps taken, if that's what you meant). But note that "Casual leaves" isn't an established usage in mainstream English, so I for one don't know exactly what it means. Aug 29, 2019 at 16:49
  • @ FumbleFingers.What you say is correct but that is what is written in the application form.I think the use of the number of casual leaves is wrong since leave is uncountable.But availed is used in the sence of used but available means the remaining balance.Bur neither you nor Andrew did not show the way out Aug 29, 2019 at 17:01
  • I do not know why this should be closed or down voted.It is a genuine problem faced by the teachers in India and may be abroad Aug 30, 2019 at 1:37
  • @JagathaVLNarasimharao I upvoted to bring back to zero. The downvote might have been because none of us had heard the phrase "casual leaves availed" and it sounded like utter nonsense. I now understand it means "vacation time taken" and appears on official forms. That sounds like a reasonable question for ELL, but it took us a while to get there! Aug 31, 2019 at 21:37

1 Answer 1


In US English, I consider "availed myself of the opportunity" to be correct, idiomatic, and current. This includes variations such as "he availed himself of the chance to buy a discounted ticket." The meaning here is to CHOOSE to take an action, where the action is not available to everyone, or where the action is available for a limited time.

I would consider most other meanings/usage of "avail" (as a transitive verb) as archaic. However, "to no avail" is common, meaning an action was attempted but the result was unsuccessful. "He tried to flag a cab in the rain, to no avail."

I have never heard the term "casual leave" with the meaning of "paid time off". I am guessing "casual" is contrast to holiday pay, where holiday pay is tied to a specific calendar date. In U.S. English the terms are "paid time off", "vacation time", "sick leave", "holiday leave" (or "holiday pay" or "holiday off" or "paid holiday"). We use the paid time off rather than avail it. We do track the balance of time remaining.

We might say "she availed herself of the time off, since she would lose it at the end of the year" and be understood, but that's much less common. More likely we'd say "her time off was 'use it or lose it,' so she used it."

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    FWIW I can back you up from the UK perspective too. Aug 30, 2019 at 12:39
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    Gosh! I am pretty old and it sounds very old-fashioned to me. But it is not wrong in the sentence 'He availed himself of the opportunity'. But 'The number of Casual leaves availed' is really weird. Maybe it is some kind of local jargon. If so, use it locally, but nowhere else.
    – JeremyC
    Aug 30, 2019 at 22:05
  • @JeremyC.What do you think is the correct use in place of "the number of casual leaves availed " Aug 31, 2019 at 15:30
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    @Edward Barnard Teachers usually have leave for 22 days. They have to show the balance .whenever they apply for leave.The number of days used as leave and the number of days are still available as leave.I think you have understood what I mean Aug 31, 2019 at 16:50
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    @JagathaVLNarasimharao Answer edited. Thank you for the explanation! That's a new phrase for me to know :) Aug 31, 2019 at 21:31

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