I want to say "If I can help with your English studies ...".

I thought of three ways, none of which I'm sure is natural:

  1. 英語の勉強を手伝ってあげられたら...
  2. 英語の勉強のお手伝いをしてあげられたら...
  3. 英語の勉強のお手伝いができたら...

I looked up the parts in bold on Google and got hardly any hits for 1. and 2. So I tried 3., and that seemed a bit better.

So my question has three parts:

  1. Is there any difference between using nounを手伝う and nounのお手伝いをする?
  2. Is it weird to add てあげる to these constructions? Is the 'giving' part already implied because the verb is about helping?
  3. What are natural ways to say "If I can help you with noun phrase"?
  • Who are you talking to? Little kids? 1 and 2 (and 3 as well to be strict) sound pretty 上から. – l'électeur Feb 24 '19 at 14:43
  • @l'électeur It was intended for someone of a similar status to, or below me. I'm assuming 上から suggests that my sentences sound pompous. That wasn't my intention :-( – user3856370 Feb 24 '19 at 14:48
  • @Darius Jahandarie Not sure why you offered a bounty on my question, but thanks anyway :-) I don't know how it works but I was very happy with broccoli forest's answer and accepted it. – user3856370 Jul 9 '19 at 15:44
  • I’ve often felt this English pattern to not translate that directly into Japanese so I was curious what our native speakers thought of it. :) – Darius Jahandarie Jul 9 '19 at 15:51

What are natural ways to say "If I can help you with noun phrase‍"?

If I understand English correctly, this phrase should mean "if there is a chance I am of help to you with...", but unfortunately, your Japanese sentences mean "if I have enough ability to help you with..." In other words, it presupposes somebody does need help, rather than may or may not to. If you do know well the specific people or situation that they must be in trouble, then you can say that way and be a 気の利く thoughtful person, but otherwise it could sound intrusive or even patronizing. You should instead use:

[noun phrase]でお手伝いできることが(あれば/ありましたら)…
[noun phrase]でお手伝いが必要な時は…

to have the same connotation as your English. But I think I'd say:

[noun phrase]で(お困りの/困った)ことがあれば…
[noun phrase]で何かできることがあれば…

which are more or less idiomatic in Japanese.

Is it weird to add てあげる to these constructions? Is the 'giving' part already implied because the verb is about helping?

Just for the same reason as above. If you're already sure they like it, or they call for you to do something, you're fine to use ~てあげる. Otherwise you'll risk being a busybody.

Is there any difference between using nounを手伝う and nounのお手伝いをする?

The latter is a more polite (and often humble) way of saying with honorific prefix お-. It must become お手伝い(を)する because *お手伝う is ungrammatical (cf. 書く → お書きになる). By the way, お手伝い as a noun is indeed much more popular than the bare 手伝い. It's good to know that domestic helper is traditionally called お手伝いさん.


I think the problem we have here is that there's no easy way to use 手伝う sentences without implying that you're in a position that is higher than the other person, at least with respect to a specific subject, even if you're a peer to that person.

The sort of roundabout way of describing what you're trying to do is to do something with them, like, practice. Think on this:



This might be a presumption on my part, but at least in English, we express politeness by offering help, whereas I think Japanese people in general don't take very kindly to offered help, as help is usually something that is requested. I don't think I have heard a 手伝う sentence that is outward, and that isn't looking down (even if unintentionally) at the person receiving help.

When l'électeur mentions that you sound 上から, I personally read this as, you sort of sound like this person's teacher. That might not be how you feel about the other person, so your best bet is to cast yourself in a similar light as the other person, and attempt to cast your request in a "mutually-beneficial" sort of way, if you mean to actually help and not offend, even if you know that you'd be fine without it.

  1. ...を手伝う is a verb, while ...のお手伝いをする is doing the noun お手伝い, which means "help"
  2. お手伝してあげる implies that I will help, but a more natural way would be 手伝ってあげる. Your way is not weird at all.
  3. "もしも noun phase をお手伝いできたら..."

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.