Can/Might/May I help you?

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casino

Senior Member
Japan
Could you tell me the difference between "May I help you?" and "How may I help you?"?

Casino
 
  • cropje_jnr

    Senior Member
    English - Australia
    May I help you? = This is more general, akin to "Am I able to help you (in any way)?" It could be answered with a simple "yes."

    How may I help you? = This is more specific. "In what way can I help you?" You cannot answer by merely saying "yes"; you must specify how the person can help you.
     

    cfu507

    Senior Member
    Hebrew
    Hi, I learned that "Might I help you?" is a way to offer help when you are hesitate. I wonder if people realy offer that way because I had never come across with that expression before.
    Thanks
     

    mtmjr

    Senior Member
    English (US)
    Hi, I learned that "Might I help you?" is a way to offer help when you are hesitante. I wonder if people really offer assistance that way because I had never come across with that expression before.
    Thanks
    It is a way of offering assistance; I'm not so sure it expresses hesitance however. No, people do not use this expression anymore, at least not in my experience. Certainly it is never used among young people. Such an expression sounds antiquated and perhaps a bit affected to me.
     

    by45

    New Member
    Korean
    Hi!

    sometimes I see some foreigners try to find the way on the street. whenever i see them I feel like to ask them if they need help.

    I'm curious if I can say "Can I help you??" to them for this situation.

    "Do you need help?" or "Can I help you?" or both of them are possible to use??

    Thanks in advance!
     

    Categenesis

    Member
    English
    Hi!

    sometimes I see some foreigners try to find the way on the street. whenever i see them I feel like to ask them if they need help.

    I'm curious if I can say "Can I help you??" to them for this situation.

    "Do you need help?" or "Can I help you?" or both of them are possible to use??

    Thanks in advance!
    I rather like "Can I help you?" (rather than "May I help you?" which you didn't ask about) because after I hear their problem, I find that I often can't... so the "to be able to" aspect of "can" is definitely there for me.

    "Do you need help?" is what I might ask someone who looked ill, or who was an apparent victim of someone's physical or verbal abuse.

    Don
     

    by45

    New Member
    Korean
    I rather like "Can I help you?" (rather than "May I help you?" which you didn't ask about) because after I hear their problem, I find that I often can't... so the "to be able to" aspect of "can" is definitely there for me.

    "Do you need help?" is what I might ask someone who looked ill, or who was an apparent victim of someone's physical or verbal abuse.

    Don
    Thanks a lot!!!! :)
     

    Lecword

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    May I help you? = This is more general, akin to "Am I able to help you (in any way)?" It could be answered with a simple "yes."

    How may I help you? = This is more specific. "In what way can I help you?" You cannot answer by merely saying "yes"; you must specify how the person can help you.

    Hello everybody

    Could we aswer the question "How may/can I help you?" by saying "Yes, please"? For example when offering help in a shop?

    Many thanks
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    How may I help you?
    (You tell the person what assistance you need.)

    Can/May I help you?
    Yes, please.
    or Yes, you can. (Then you tell the person what assistance you need.)

    You can't say "Yes, please" to "How may I help you?" because you're being asked "in what way can I help you?" so your answer must specifically deal with the "way in which they can help."
     
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