“Help yourself!” (English Courses in the Philippines)

“Help yourself!”

It’s time for your weekly dose of PHRASE FACTS! For work, leisure, travel, or just a plain conversation over a hot cup of coffee, we will feature phrases and expressions that will surely help you develop your vocabulary!

For this week’s Phrase Facts, the spotlight is on the expression “help yourself”. You might say you can easily guess the phrase’s meaning by simply looking at it word for word. Basing on that, you can say “Since nobody is around to help you, only you can help yourself”, right? WRONG!

Actually, we use the expression “help yourself” when people ask us for something and we let them have it. For example:

(Ozzy and Dio are at the cafeteria having lunch.)

Ozzy: Hey, Dio. Your lunch looks very appetizing. What is that?

Dio: Oh, this is Mom’s special lasagna.

Ozzy: Can I have some?

Dio: Sure! Here, help yourself.

We can see in the dialogue that Ozzy is willingly offering Dio his lunch. In some cases, we also use this expression when people ask permission from you to do something, and you allow them. For example:

(Bart and Lisa are at the living room practicing saxophone.)

Lisa: You should learn to breathe properly when playing the saxophone, Bart.

Bart: Okay, I understand. I want to be better at playing the saxophone but I don’t have one. May I practice on your saxophone until dad buys me my own?

Lisa: Of course, Bart. Help yourself.

In this dialogue Lisa doesn’t mind if Bart practices on her saxophone.

“Help yourself” isn’t too complicated to understand. When somebody says “help yourself” after you asked them for a slice of that cheesy tuna pizza, you SHOULDN’T literally help yourself by making your left hand assist your right hand. Think about it.

Until next time!

 

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