General Writing and Grammar Help/Tempt


I'm writing a paper and have a section on what it means to tempt someone. Looking it up online, it gives several meanings: entice someone to do something unwise; get them to simply want to do it; or try to persuade to do.
So based on that, for example, if a waiter asked you "can I tempt you with dessert? " and you said "you can try", is that redundant? In other words, is that like saying "you can try to try"? Or is that simply stating "you can try to persuade"?

I'm just trying to figure out how to properly use the word tempt in conversation.

ANSWER: I think you understand the concept and usage here

"Can I tempt you ..." means can I persuade you to buy

"You can try .." is a teasing response

But it is a bit redundant

because "Can I tempt you" is a euphemism

I hope that clarifies things for you


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for your quick response. But what do you mean by "you can try" is teasing, and "can I tempt you" is a euphemism?  Also, if saying "you can try" is redundant (implying "try to try), then what is a proper response? Could you just say "yes" and the "try" is implied?

These are coded social messages - and you should not think of them in literal terms

"Can I tempt you ..." means I would like to sell you something


"You can try .." would mean [literally] "I am open to persuasion"

But in fact it would mean "No - I am not going to buy"

I hope that helps

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I can answer questions on English language, grammar, writing skills, and study skills. I am particularly experienced in the writing skills required for academic essays, term papers, reports, dissertations, and post-graduate theses.


I have forty years experience as a tutor and as the author of books on writing and study skills. For thirty years I was a tutor for the Workers' Educational Association, which specialises in courses for adult students and preparing mature students for university. I was also a tutor for the Open University between 1975 and 2010. During that time I have also written a number of books on writing and study skills. In the last ten years or more I have specialised in creating computer-aided learning materials and online learning courses.

"Making the Grade" (Manchester University Press) 1990 "Studying Fiction" (Manchester University Press) 1991 "Marking Essays" (Clifton Press) 1993 "Revision and Examinations" (Clifton Press) 1993 "Writing Essays" (Clifton Ress) 1996 "Study Skills" (Clifton Press) 1996 "Electronic Writing" (Clifton Press) 1996 "Improve your Writing Skills" (Clifton Press) 2010 "Writing Essays 3.0" (Clifton Press) 2008 [computer program] "English Language 3.0" (Clifton Press) 2008 [computer program] "Study Skills 2.0" (Clifton Press) 2008 [computer program]

My first degree was in mechanical engineering (HNC). I then switched to literary studies and philosophy. My second degree was a BA in English and American Literature (from Manchester University - UK). I also have an MA in Comparative Literary Studies, and my doctoral thesis (PhD) was in the relationship between literature and politics.

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