Help! I need somebody Help! Not just anybody.

Everyone needs help from time to time and most people are willing to give it in a time of need. Most of the time of course the help needed is for something minor. But sometimes the help may be a matter of life or death. The expressions below are generally used for minor assistance. For any thing really, really major- the need for help is usually readily apparent and would not require someone to ask- such as in a fire or a serious car accident. Look at these expressions that can be used for asking for minor assistance.

English Expressions

Expression Response
To offer help  
Would you like some help? Yes, that would be great.
Can I give you a hand? Thanks, much obliged
Do you need a hand? No thanks, I’ve got it.
May I offer my assistance? That would be so kind, thank you.
To ask for help  
Could you give me a hand? Certainly.
Would you mind helping me out? Not at all.
Could you help me please? My pleasure

As with help, people need advice from time to time. Your family or friends may need advice about relationships, financial investments, or how to deal with an irritating co-worker. Look at the expressions can be used when asking for advice.

Expression Response
When asking for advice When giving advice
What do you think I should do?

That’s a good idea.

Why don’t you (…. take a taxi instead, it’s faster.)
What would you do in my shoes?

Maybe you’re right.

Have you thought about (…. getting some

medicine at the pharmacy)?/font>

Do you have any ideas about what to do?

Thanks for the advice.

I think you should ( …. see a doctor).
What would you suggest?

That might work. I hadn’t thought of that.

Have you considered ( …. the local markets?

Sometimes they have great deals).

Can you think of anything that might help?

Thanks, I’ll try that.

One option may be to (…. call you embassy).

English Dialogue

Students should work together in pairs and read the following dialogue, one student reading one part, the other student reading the other. Note the expressions used in the dialogue and the progression of the conversation. The dialogue can be used as a model to have similar conversations.


Barry: Could you give me a hand this weekend?

Larry: Doing what?

Barry: Landscaping my yard.

Larry: That sounds like a big job.

Barry: It might be, it depends on how I decide to do it.

Larry: You don’t know yet?

Barry: I can’t make up my mind. I’m vacillating between desert landscape with cacti or lush green grass with lots

of flowers. What do you think it should be?

Larry: Well, a desert landscape has a lot less maintenance, but nothing beats a nice green lawn.

Barry: Thus my dilemma. What would you do?

Larry: Let me ask you this- how much time will you spend out there.

Barry: With my schedule, probably not much.

Larry: Then I would go with the desert. Keeping up a grass lawn is a lot of work.

Barry: Yea, I think you’re right.


After reading, close your book and tell your partner a summary of the dialogue. Then switch and have your partner tell his or her summary. Start like this: This dialogue is about a man asking for help with …This may seem silly, since you both already know what the dialogue is about, but the purpose is to practice using your English, not to give information or test your reading skills.


Conversation Activities


1. Pair work- discussion

     When was the last time you helped someone or someone helped you? Tell your partner about it using some of

the ideas for discussion below. Your partner should ask questions to get more information.

  • what was the help for
  • where did it happen
  • when did it happen
  • how often do you offer assistance

2. Pair work- discussion

     When was the last time you gave someone advice or asked for advice? Tell your partner about it using some

of the ideas for discussion below. Your partner should ask questions<=”” span=””> to get more information.

  • what was the advice for
  • was it good advice
  • who did you ask/who asked you
  • did you follow the advice- why or why not

3. Pair work- role play

     The situation: Seeking help on the street. Be sure to express your gratitude. Working with a partner, role

play the situation, using the information below


    The roles: you, your partner

                Moving a heavy box                                   Directions to the subway      

                Where the jeans are in a store                  Using a cell phone

                Fixing a flat                                                 Using an ATM (instructions

                                                                                        are in a foreign language)