'To no avail' Meaning and Examples

To no avail means that you do not succeed in achieving your objective, or what you do is ineffective.

To no avail in English means that you do not succeed in achieving your objective, or what you do is ineffective.

  • I tried to warn him of the dangers of smoking, but to no avail.
  • Our team lost the football match. The players did their best to no avail.

To no avail is often used to say that you are making and effort but not having success:

  • I decided to abandon the project after working very hard to no avail.
  • I failed the exam. Can you believe it? I studied 8 hours a day for two weeks to no avail.

Is 'To no avail' Formal?

To no avail is mainly used in writing and literary works. It is also used in formal and neutral conversations.

You can use to no avail in informal situations, but this expression is more extended in formal language. In an informal context you can use other words, such as "pointless", "in vain" or "to no benefit":

  • I tried to convince my parents, but my efforts were to no avail.
  • I tried to convince my parents, but my efforts were pointless.
  • I tried to convince my parents, but my efforts were in vain.

The three sentences above are correct.

Difference between 'To no avail' and 'Of no avail'

  • Of no avail means unsuccessful, pointless, or useless (adjective).
  • To no avail means:
    • in vain, unsuccessfully (adverb)
    • of no avail

For example, you can say:

  • His help was of no avail.
  • Do useful things. Avoid doing things that are of no avail.
  • I've been practicing yoga to reduce anxiety and stress, but to no avail.
  • The government implemented halfway measures to no avail.

'To little avail' and 'Of little avail'

You can use to little avail and of little avail to cushion the idea of being "useless" and sound less blunt.

  • The board of directors implemented a number of policies, but they were of little avail.
  • Try to do meaningful things instead of doing things that are to little avail.

More Examples

  • Her efforts were of no avail.
  • I tried acupuncture to quit smoking to no avail.
  • She wanted to buy a luxury car. We tried to change her mind, but to no avail.
  • It is one of the most difficult books to understand. I read it three times to no avail.
  • Most of the policies they have implemented to prevent illegal drug trade were of no avail.
  • Legislators tried to prevent tobacco use by passing a number of anti-smoking laws, but to no avail.
  • Writing such a long article on climate change was of no avail because the editor decided to drop my story.
  • Chinese is one of the hardest languages to learn for Americans. I tried to learn Chinese with a native speaker to little avail.
  • My wife and I attempted to repair the washing machine ourselves to no avail. I must admit that we were not sure what was causing the problem.
  • In 2008, the European central bank tried to stimulate economic growth by lowering interest rates, but its monetary policy decisions were to no avail.

Other Ways To Say 'To no avail'

Instead of to no avail, you can use the following expressions in a range of situations:

  • useless
  • pointless
  • in vain
  • no help
  • to no benefit
  • to no use
  • to no effect
  • with no gain
  • it will not serve
  • but not worth it
  • It will not be of any use
  • it doesn't make any difference
  • It didn't help me achieve the goal

'Avail' as a Verb

"To avail oneself of something" means making good use of something, or taking advantage of an opportunity. "To avail" can also mean "to help" or "to be useful". You can learn more about to avail as a verb on our post 'To Avail' Meaning and Examples.

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