In life, no matter how well you prepare, there’s still a chance that things could go wrong. (Murphy’s law, remember?). Hence, it’s important to know how to ask for help. Have you ever wondered, how does a native speaker ask for help? Below you will find out about that. We will get you to know different ways to ask for help in English!


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Informal ways to ask for help in English

Help me, please

This is usually one of the most common ways to ask for help in English, for sure. It’s a very casual way to ask the other person to help you out. Hence, this expression is quite direct. You use this with friends or people you know well. You also reckon that what you’re asking does not require a great amount of effort from the person you’re asking for help. Below are some examples in different contexts.

Example

  • I’m arriving from the airport later this afternoon with some really heavy bags and accessories. Can you help me, please? I’d really appreciate.
  • Help me, please! I have been stuck at it for what seems like forever. I will forever be in your debts.

Can I ask you for a favour?

What’s a favour, you might ask? A favour is something you do for someone to help them out. At the same time, you can ask someone for a favour. If you do that, you hope the person you asked would help you. You do that by using the following expression: “Can I ask you for a favour?”. A variation of this expression, “Could you do me a favour?” is also applicable.

Example

  • Terry tried to bribe me the other day. He meant to give me a hundred thousands dollar. Now I don’t know what to do. Can I ask you for a favour?
  • Could you do me a favour? The next time you went to the stadium to watch the football game, can you remind your wife to tag me along?

(I can’t manage.) Can you help?

If you use this phrase, you’re in a delicate situation. You’re having a big problem and are desperate for help. We usually make use of this expression when we’re too busy and having too much to do. We want someone to come and help us out.

Example

  • Hey, I think I will probably have to do my thesis on Saturday. I knew that I promised to take the kid to see the new Star Wars movie but I can’t manage that. Can you help?
  • Why don’t you come down to the kitchen? It’s basically a mess in there and I can’t manage. Can you help me out?

Could you spare a moment?

When we use this expression, we understand that the other person is really busy. We respect that. This phrase is quite vague in the sense that it does not specify who or what you’re asking for. You indicate to the other person that they will only need to help you for a short amount of time.

Example

  • I know you’re crazy busy these days but I hope we can work out some agreements. Could you spare a moment? I promise it won’t be too long. After that, you can resume your work.
  • I’m having some troubles with this paperwork here. It’s different from what we have in store right now. Could you spare a moment? I need your card to go see the boss.

Do/Would you mind + gerunds

We use this type of phrase to ask for help in everyday situations. Native speakers usually make use of this expression to soften their request (for help). ‘Do you mind moving the chair for me?’ certainly sounds nicer than ‘Can you move the chair here?’, right? The phrase ‘Would you mind’ is even more polite than the one we discussed above.

Example

  • I stayed at home all day long. It’s getting really really bored. Do you mind bringing me along to the Paul Atreides party tonight? I won’t cause any troubles, I promise you that.
  • Hey honey. I’m afraid that I cannot go through with our plan. Some guys are fighting like crazy in the street and the SEAL is there. Nobody knows what’s happening. Do you mind taking the kids home for me?

Formal ways to ask for help in English

Could you help me for a second?

In general, the expression ‘Could you help me for a second’ indicates politeness of the person who asks. It also expresses the formality of the situation. Last but not least, we use the word ‘for a second’ to express that what we ask won’t take a lot of time and it’s not that difficult.

Example

  • I’m stuck down here in the basement with all your stuff. Could you help me for a second? I don’t think I have enough strength to move your boxes.
  • Could you help me for a second? I need to get a copy of these papers before they close our office but I’m down in the dumps right now.

I wonder if you could help me with this?

In English, native speakers usually use a more distance sentence construction. They do that in order to make their wordings sound more formal and kind. You see an example of it here. The purpose of the phrase ‘I wonder’ is to make the rest of the sentence sound more polite. We usually see this kind of expression in conversations with a boss or with people we don’t know really well.

Example

  • Hear me out, Jessica. I’m on fire right now. I wonder if you could help me with this?
  • I know that words are wind. Nevertheless, I assure you this will be the last time I seek your favour. I was just wondering if you could help me with this?

Lend me a hand with this, will you?

We actually discussed a variation of this construction before. The phrase ‘Lend me a hand’ has essentially the same meaning as ‘give me a hand’. Yet they are different. Nevertheless, we usually consider ‘lend me a hand’ a tad more polite and old-fashioned than its peers. (Which is the first one we talk about in this article).

Example

  • No, I need you to do that. Sandor is interesting, but what can he do that you can’t? I promise this is the last time I ask for your help. Lend me a hand with this, will you?
  • Just for your information, our mailbox got destroyed by the storm. We need to fix that before noon or we won’t get any new letters until next month. Lend me a hand with this, will you?

Would it be too much trouble for you

We often use this expression in formal contexts. It indicates we only ask for help if the other person was okay with it and will not mind helping us.

Example

  • Eddard, please clean your room. And Jean, would it be too much trouble for you to stop by the grocery store and buy some new junk foods?
  • Hey Robb. Long time no sees. I was wondering if I could ask you something. You see, would it be too much trouble for you to lend me two million dollars?

How to learn English effectively

  • First, you will start with the background work. It’s really simple. You just need to add the eJOY eXtension to Google Chrome.

Download the eJOY eXtension for free here.

  • You can select any word/ phrase to highlight it. eJOY eXtension will show the meaning, definitions as well as pronunciations of the highlighted word/ phrase.
  • Tap the small blue +Add button to save a word/ phrase to your workbook. Later, you can play games to remember them better.
  • One thing that makes the eJOY eXtension stand out is the fact that it helps you learn English vocabulary in contexts.
Ask for help in English
Using the eJOY eXtension to look up words while watching Netflix.
  • eJOY also has the WordHunt feature. In short, this tool allows you to search for different usages of a word/ phrase in different videos. You can learn vocabulary from contexts better this way. (Because we all know learning from contexts is the best learning).
    • First, you need to go to the WordHunt website.
    • The, you can type a word/ phrase you want.
    • Tap the little button “Say it”.
    • WordHunt will list all videos in eJOY’s library containing your word/ phrase in their subtitles.
    • Listen and practice (repeat) the different contexts of the word.
Ask for help in English
Using eJOY’s WordHunt feature to look up words in contexts
  • You can also use the eJOY eXtension instead of having to visit a website. Whenever you look up a word with eJOY eXtension, there will always be an orange button ‘Say It’. Be bold, tap on that, and guess where you’re going!

Which are your favourite expressions to ask for help in English? Do you have any questions for us? You can let us know in the comment section below!

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