Risk Free Offer

I’m not a native English speaker so perhaps I have a bad eye for this, but I’ve just found something on a magazine’s web site that looks strange to me. When Mac Life has a section on its web site at the bottom of each of page titled “Risk Free Offer”, I can’t help but to see the word Risk as a verb; this would mean the magazine is asking you to take the risk of a free offer, which is most likely not the intended meaning.

I think what they mean is “Risk-Free Offer”, where the hyphen transform Risk Free into a compound adjective with the meaning of an offer free of any risk. Well, technically-speaking, you don’t always need to put a hyphen to make a compound adjective. But in this case there is an ambiguity, so I guess they should put the hyphen in.

Although I now have another theory. Perhaps they’re playing on the ambiguity to make people notice more. In which case it worked amazingly well on me.



I don’t think they’re playing on the ambiguity, because “Risk free offer” with risk as a verb doesn’t seem to mean anything, unless they’re speaking pidgeon English. Yes, I fell the hyphen is missing, but I’m not a native English speaker either.

Alan Hogan

As a native English speaker with a “grammar Nazi” high-school English teacher, I am fairly certain you are correct in observing the hyphen is correct and unambigous. I also doubt the ambiguity is intentional. Journalists and their marketers don’t always have a mastery of their language, though it is their primary tool.

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