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How To Ask For Help In English

It’s August – and that means it’s summer holiday time for many people in the Northern Hemisphere! If you’re a smart traveller, you will have thought about many of the things you need to keep you safe or to make sure you don’t have problems when you go abroad. For example, spare cash or credit cards, a photocopy of your passport, your flight details, emergency phone numbers, mosquito repellent, vaccinations, and so on.

No matter how well you prepare, though, there’s always a small chance that things can go wrong! That means it’s really important that you know how to ask for help when you need it.

Of course, the way you ask for help depends on the kind of problem and what you need. If it is a very serious problem, for example you are shouting for someone to come and help you because you have fallen and broken your leg, you need to use different phrases than if you are asking a stranger for directions!

Here are some common ways to ask for help in English, which should fit any situation.


Asking Politely for Help

When you are asking a stranger in the street to help you with a problem, remember that you are asking them a favour. If they help you, it is because they are being nice, not because they have to. This means it is important to be polite when you ask for help.

For example, if you are lost and need to ask for directions, you should start by using a phrase like “excuse me..” or “I’m sorry to bother you…

You can then follow that by asking for the thing you need directly, for example:

“Excuse me, do you know how to get to the train station?”

Or you can use one of the phrases below. All of them are friendly, informal ways to say “can you help me?”

“Could you help me out?”

“Could you give me a hand?”

“Could you lend a hand?”

“I could use some help”

“I could do with some help”

“Would you do me a favour?”

For example:

“I’m sorry to bother you, but my car has broken down. Could you give me a hand?”

“Excuse me, would you do me a favour? Could you watch my suitcase while I buy my train ticket?”


Getting Help In An Emergency

Sometimes you need to show that a situation is very serious. For example, if you have an accident or are in danger and need to get somebody’s attention, you can just shout “Help!” or “Help Me!”.

In most situations, you will still be speaking to a particular person. Depending on your emergency, you could say something like:

“Please help, I /we need an ambulance”

“Can you call the police?”

It also helps to use words like urgent, emergency and danger to show how serious the situation is (but only if it really is serious!)

For example:

“Please can you help me find a doctor? It is an emergency, my daughter is very sick”

“I’m sorry to bother you, but could I use your phone? I need to speak to my embassy urgently

“I can’t find my friend and I think she is in danger. Can you help me?”

Lastly, remember, most trips are problem-free and we don’t want to make you nervous, but just in case you do have any problems, these tips will help you find the right kind of help faster!

Planning a trip abroad? Want to improve your English language skills first? Take a look at our range of courses at www.Eurocentres.com