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Asking for help

We all need help sometimes. In English, it is not polite to ask directly. So there are many phrases that we can say before a request to 'soften' it. Here are ten such phrases.

Ten Expressions to Use In Speaking And Writing

  1. Can you give me a hand with this?
  2. Could you help me for a second?
  3. Can I ask a favour?
  4. I wonder if you could help me with this?
  5. I could do with some help, please.
  6. I can't manage. Can you help?
  7. Give me a hand with this, will you?
  8. Lend me a hand with this, will you?
  9. Could you spare a moment?
  10. I need some help, please.

How To Use These Phrases In Your English

  1. Phrase 1 is quite a direct question to use with friends and people who you know quite well.
  2. Phrase 2 is more polite. We include the words 'for a second' to show that we don't need a lot of help and that it will not be difficult.
  3. Phrase 3 is a general way of introducing a request for help.
  4. Phrase 4 is polite and can be used with people you don't know very well, or with your boss.
  5. Phrase 5 is quite direct, and the focus is that you really need help. It's quite strong.
  6. Phrase 6 shows you have a big problem. You are desperate for help. you often hear this phrase when somebody has too much work to do.
  7. Phrases 7 and 8 are similar and are direct requests for help. 'Lend a hand' is a little more polite and old-fashioned than 'give me a hand.'
  8. We use phrase 9 to show that we respect that the other person is really quite busy and to say that they will only need to help you for a short time.
  9. Phrase 10 is a direct question and the asker does not expect the listener to say no. This is often used by people in authority e.g. bosses.