If you are thinking of travelling abroad, you will surely want to be able to offer your assistance if necessary. At the airport,you may want to help someone put their bags in the overhead lockers once they have boarded the plane. Or, in a big city you could come across someone who is having difficulties finding a monument and offer to help them get their bearings in the city.
In some languages, there is not a wide variety of expressions used to offer assistance. In English, however, the situation is more complicated. English has many expressions to offer help. Each expression has a precise and nuanced meaning and is only used in particular situations. Here we have a list of expressions to offer your assistance in English, starting with the most formal.
Shall we begin?
May I (do something)?: May is a modal verb which indicates a possibility, a concession, or a request. As is the case in almost all modal verbs, the interrogative is constructed by putting the modal verb first, followed by the subject, and finally, the main verb.
In its interrogative form, may can be a very formal way of offering your help.
- May I offer you my help?
- May I carry your bag for you?
Would you like me to (do something)?: Would … like is the conditional form of like which can be used to express an offer of help to someone. It is a formal and kind mode of expression.
- Would you like me to open the window?
- Would you like me to bring you a drink?
Can I (do something)?: The interrogative form of the modal verb can is used to express a somewhat less formal offer of help while still being kind. This sentence construction can be used with friends as well as with strangers. It is a warm way of expressing yourself while at the same time denoting the will and desire to do something for the other person.
- Can I bring you a dessert?
- Can I give you a lift?
Do you want me to (do something)?: While less formal than the previous forms, this interrogative is no less kind. It is used when you are not completely sure of the answer your offer will receive.
- Do you want me to go for you?
- Do you want me to come to pick you up?
Shall I (do something)?: Even though this verb does not have a very widespread use, especially in the United States, where it has practically disappeared. It is only used for in first person singular and plural. It is an encouraging and incentivizing way to express your offer to assist someone.
- Shall I turn off the radio?
- Shall I help you with your homework?
I’d be happy to (do something): This construction is a very formal way of offering your help. It is often used in the workplace or between people who do not know each other well.
- I’d be happy to reschedule the appointment with you.
- I’d be happy to go with you.
I can (do something): As we saw before, the verb can is a modal verb. In both its interrogative and affirmative forms, it can be a kind way to offer help to someone.
- I can write this email for you.
- I can go to buy coffee, if you want.
Let me (do something): This expression is a kind, but quite informal way of offering assistance to someone.
- Let me help you with your jacket.
- Let me find out if it is true.
I will (do something): The simple future construction is used here to represent an informal way to offer aid. It is appropriate for use with people who you know well and who will be happy to accept your help.
- I’ll go shopping for you.
- I’ll go to the pharmacy for you.
These expressions are all used to offer help in English. However, it is important to know that there are no strict rules and that the best way to learn the appropriate expression for each occasion is to practice. If you need to improve your English, ABA English is here to assist you. We offer 144 video lessons as well as short films to help you learn to communicate in English easily and naturally. What are you waiting for? We can help you!