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Language tip of the week: help

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In this weekly microblog, we bring to English language learners more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary. These tips are based on areas of English (e.g. spelling, grammar, collocation, etc) which learners often find difficult.

This week’s language tip is about the verb help.

The verb help is not used with the ing form of another verb. It is used with the infinitive (with or without ‘to’) in any of these patterns:
▪  help do something
▪  help to do something
▪  help someone do something
▪  help someone to do something
✗ Foreign tourists can help revitalizing our economy.
✓ Foreign tourists can help revitalize our economy.
✓ Foreign tourists can help to revitalize our economy.
✗ Banning smoking in restaurants may help people avoiding the risk of illness.
✓ Banning smoking in restaurants may help people avoid the risk of illness.
✓ Banning smoking in restaurants may help people to avoid the risk of illness.
The –ing form is only used with help in the fixed expression can’t help doing something:
I can’t help thinking that they should have informed the police.

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Kati Sule

3 Comments

  • The phrasal verb ‘help out’ has this meaning: to help someone, especially by doing a particular job or by giving them money. The Macmillan Dictionary gives these examples. Additional examples are:
    It was big of him to help out like that.
    In an emergency, staff will be diverted from less urgent tasks to help out.

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