Asking for help is one of the most useful and important parts of practical language.  In this blog we’ll look at how to ask for help in English.

The definition of ‘help’.

HELP (verb) to make it possible / easier for someone to do something by offering your services or resource.

Requesting help

You can order or ask someone to help. 

Ask – I’m lost. Can you help me?

Order – Please help your mother with those bags.

You should consider including:

  • WHO you want to give the order to (DAVID can YOU help?)
  • WHO you want them to help (David help SARAH please)
  • WHAT you want them to help with (David please can you help Sarah TO FIND HER BOOK)

Synonyms for HELP

To help. I would like you to help each other.

To help out Who is able to help out tonight?

To lend a hand Do you want to lend a hand?

To give a hand Can you give me a hand?

To give a helping hand We all need a helping hand?

To assist Is anyone free to assist me with this?

To give assistance I need your assistance.

To aid David can you aid me in this exercise?

To come to (object) aid David agreed to come to Sarah’s aid.

Seeking Information From A Stranger (Face to face)

Typically we seek help from strangers when we are lost or need directions, need some local information, or want to know the time.  It is common to get the person’s attention by saying “Excuse me”.

LOST

When lost and in need of help you can use any of the following phrases:

1. Excuse me

2. Can you help me?

    – I’m trying to find ……..

    – I seem to have lost my way.

3. I’m looking for ……..

    I’m trying to find ……..

    Do you know where ………. is?

    Could you show me on this map where we are?

LOCAL INFORMATION

1. Excuse me

2. Do you know if there is a post office nearby?

    Where did you get that ice cream from?

    Do you have any idea when the next bus is due?

TIME

1. Excuse me

2. Do you have the time?

    Do you know what time it is?

    Could you tell me the time please?

Seeking Help From Someone You Know

When asking someone you know to help you then you could be direct and simply say – Can you: assist me tonight? / help me with this? / give me a hand?

but if you want to sound more polite then consider using one of the following phrases.

Are you able to: give me a hand?

Is there any chance you could: give me a hand with…

Is it possible for you to: help me to ….

Of course using PLEASE at the end will sweeten the request even further.  You could even start by simply asking:

Can you do me a favour, please?

Can you spare a moment / minute, please?

If we ask using the phrase WOULD YOU MIND then the following verb should be in the continuous form (ING).

Would you mind: explaining it to me again?

  – helping me to unpack?

  – assisting the teacher in class?

  – giving us a hand?

I Need You

Making others understand that you need help is usually all you need to do in order for them to offer their assistance.  You could say something like:

– I need help

– I could use some help

– I’m struggling

– This is very difficult

– This is tricky

– I don’t know how to do this

– I am confused

– I don’t understand

– I don’t get it

– I have no idea what I am supposed to be doing

Thank You

Showing your gratitude is of course good manners and will make the other person feel good about helping you.  Here are a few different way to say thank you:

– Thank you so much.

– You are a star, thank you.

– That was really helpful.

– I really appreciate you helping me.

– I can’t thank you enough.

– Thank you for taking the time to help me, it means a lot.

In Conclusion

Understanding how to ask for help in English is an important part of learning to speak English.  Particularly for use as a tourist, but also in everyday life.  I hope you found this lesson helpful.  If you’d like to continue your learning, I have lots of resources that can help you further.

DOWNLOAD LESSON NOTES

You can watch the video version of this lesson below or over on my YouTube channel where there are hundreds more helpful lessons. 

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