Thursday, May 30

Help, Can't Help etc.

Help” is a very useful word to know. To borrow one of its own expressions, we can make a sentence like:

The word “Help” is such a big help to English learners.

Aside from “big help,” you can also say:

a | big | help to learners

a | great | help 

a | tremendous | help 

a | real | help 


image courtesy of stock.xchng

Of course there are many ways to use the word “Help,” but the most common is to use it like this:

Help + somebody + to Verb

That’s right. In this case it’s similar to other words like “want,” “allow,” “ask,” “tell,” “expect” etc.

But unlike them, “Help” can be used with or without “to” :

Help + somebody + to Verb


Help + somebody + Verb

For example,

She helped me to win. = Ok

She helped me win. = Ok

Please help them to find it. = Ok

Please help them find it. = Ok

Help” is always followed by the Infinitive form, with or without “to.” So, don't use “Help” with the V+ing:

She helped me winning. = X

Please help me finding it. = X

In fact, there is only one situation where we can combine “Help” and V+ing. It’s inside the fixed expression “Can’t Help” which I will teach you later.


I taught you how to use “Help” with an Object or a receiver of the action.

Help + somebody + to Verb

But you can also use “Help” alone. Without an Object.

He helped me fix the bathroom sink. = Ok

He helped fix the bathroom sink. = Ok

Usually, we use this pattern (alone) when we want to talk about a situation that gets better or easier.


It would help if we had more subway lines.

The President’s new directive will help fuel the economy.

The visual aids in your presentation help to clarify the idea.

My hands-on training helped a lot.

With a Noun

If you don’t want to use a Verb, you can also use a Noun with “Help.”

Like this:

Help + somebody + with + Noun

Just don’t forget to put the Prepositionwith.”


My brother helps me with my homework.

His secretary helped the boss with his schedule.

Can you help us with dinner?


There are also many expressions that have the word “Help” inside. Here are some of the most common:

(1) Please help yourself (to something)

This expression is similar to “Please have or take some.” We use this when we are offering food to somebody. This means that we want the other person to get some food without asking permission, to feel free to take some food.


Please help yourself to more cake.

Why don’t you help yourselves to some orange juice?

(2) Can’t help + Ving

Like I said, this is the only expression in which we can combine “Help” with the V+ing. 90% of the time, “Help” goes together with the Infinitive (to V).

Can’t help” is a bit confusing for some people. But if you try to remember the exact meaning of this expression, you will be able to use it easily.

We use “Can’t help” when we want to say that somebody can’t control their feelings. They can’t stop doing something. We use this expression to talk about old bad habits that are difficult for us to change.

There’s an old song titled “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” originally sung by American singer Elvis Presley. But you might have heard a different version of this song because it has been covered by many artists.

Here’s one version of the song from singer Michael Bublé:

Here are the complete lyrics of the song. The same words are repeated in the song so it’s short:

Wise men say only fools rush in
but I can't help falling in love with you
Shall I stay
would it be a sin
If I can't help falling in love with you

Like a river flows surely to the sea
Darling so it goes
some things are meant to be
take my hand, take my whole life too
for I can't help falling in love with you

Like a river flows surely to the sea
Darling so it goes
some things are meant to be
take my hand, take my whole life too
for I can't help falling in love with you

As you can see, “Can’t help V+ing” means that you don’t want to do something, but you can’t control your actions or ideas.

Here are more examples:

They can’t help thinking that he is a liar.

I can’t help wondering if she’s pregnant.

He can’t help smoking when nobody’s around.

(3) It can’t be helped

We use this expression when we want to say that there’s nothing we can do to change a bad situation.

For example,

She has to take a leave of absence. It can’t be helped.

Well, I guess it can’t be helped. We’ll have to finish this project with less funding.

(4) Help!

We shout this to call people and to ask them for help when we are in danger.

Here’s a cartoon showing the situation. But mind you, this cartoon is just for humor.


(5) Give somebody a hand, Lend a hand, Help out etc.  

These expressions are used more casually.


Can I give you a hand with those bags?

Hope You Learned Something! 
Keep on learning !

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