Here’s How To Ask For Help In Spanish [Formal And Informal]

  • Jada Lòpez
    Written byJada Lòpez
    Jada LòpezSpanish teacher, translator
    🎓 B.A., Translation and Interpreting English and Spanish, Universidad de Granada
    🎓 M.A., Formación de Profesores de Español como Lengua Extranjera (ELE), Universidad Pablo de Olavide

    Passionate language teacher and translator. Wife, mother of 3 and amateur surfer.
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Here’s How To Ask For Help In Spanish [Formal And Informal]

If you’re ever in a situation where you need help in a Spanish-speaking country, you’re going to need to know how to ask for it.

In circumstances like this, knowing the correct Spanish phrases can save your life (even literally!).

It’s better to know the phrase before you travel and it’s always good to be prepared for emergencies just in case.

In this article, you’ll learn how to say “help” in Spanish in different ways for different circumstances.

Let’s start with the basics.

How do you say “help” in Spanish?

The most common way to say “help” in Spanish is the word ayuda.

On its own, it can be used in severe circumstances.

Say a un ladrón or una ladrona (that’s a thief) steals your purse, you might shout ¡ayuda! to get the attention of passers-by.

Even though auyda is one way to ask for help, it might not always be correct as this is technically a noun, not an imperative or verb.

Depending on who you’re asking for help, there are many ways to request assistance in serious scenarios.

Here’s how to conjugate the verb ayudar in the imperative mood, which only has four different verb conjugations:

Spanish phraseAyudar in the imperative form

How to use the ayudar in the imperative mood

Most of the time you might find yourself using the imperative mood when asking for help.

For example, if you were involved in a hit and run accident and you need one person’s help, you would say ¡ayúdeme! with an e in the middle.

This is the formal way of addressing a stranger as it uses the usted version.

If you’re asking for help from a friend in a serious scenario, the word you’d use is ¡ayúdame! with an a in the middle, (which is an informal way to ask for help as it uses the version).

Again, this is an imperative phrase.

And if you’re asking for help from a group of strangers, you’d say ayúdenme.

This is the imperative, formal, plural usted version.

How do you pronounce ayúdeme?

The correct way to pronounce ayúdeme is ah-yoo-deh-meh.

The emphasis of the word is on the letter u as indicated by the tilde (accent mark).

Ayúdame is pronounced ah-yoo-dah-meh, again with emphasis in the letter u, and we pronounce ayúda like this: ah-yoo-dah. But…

…What are some other ways to say “help” in Spanish?

But there are certainly other scenarios where you’ll need to ask for help in Spanish.

Let’s check out some of the other examples in the table below.

Spanish phraseEnglish phrase
¿Me das una mano? (informal)Could you give me a hand?
¿Me puede dar una mano? (formal)Could you give me a hand?
Quiero que me ayudes (informal)I want you to help me
¡Ayúdeme!Help me!
¿Me puede ayudar? (formal)Could you help me?
¿Me puedes ayudar? (informal)Could you give me a hand?
Necesito ayudaI need help

How should you ask for assistance in a shop?

One common situation where you’ll need to ask for help is in the supermarket.

Say you find yourself searching for a particular brand of food in the supermercado one day, and for some reason, you just can’t find it!

What’s the correct way to ask for assistance in situations like these?

You could start by getting the store assistant’s attention with perdone, which means “excuse me” in Spanish.

Then, follow this with ¿me puede ayudar? and not ¿me puedes ayudar? as the correct version to use is the formal one because you don’t personally know the store assistant.

In some situations, you’ll typically hear shop assistants asking you ¿le puedo asistir? if you’re looking a little lost and unsure where to find what you’re looking for.

Note, they’re also using the formal version and not ¿te puedo asistir?

Pedir vs preguntar: when should you use each of these verbs when asking for help?

If you’re looking for ways to ask for help in Spanish, you might have done a quick translation and found that preguntar and pedir are synonyms meaning “to ask”.

While they have similar meanings, in the context of asking for help in Spain, we use the phrase pedir ayuda.

For example, if you can see that someone is struggling to cut the grass in their garden, you might tell them to pide ayuda a alguien con la césped.

In this case, you notice that the verb pedir needs to be conjugated and takes the imperative form in this situation.

Use the verb preguntar when you have a question, as that’s what this Spanish word means. For instance, if you’re studying a Spanish course and are unsure about how to conjugate the verb pedir, you might ask:

Listen to audio

Una pregunta—¿cómo se conjuga el verbo pedir?

One question—how do you conjugate the verb pedir?

How should you offer assistance to someone in Spanish?

There are formal and informal ways to offer assistance to someone in Spanish.

If you’re helping a friend with an errand, like offering to drive them somewhere, you might say ¿te ayudo? or ¿te echo una mano? which mean “should I help you?” or “should I give you a hand?” respectively.

The phrase dar una mano is a simple Spanish idiom that’s similar to the English version “give someone a hand”.

Some variations of this idiom include ¿me das una mano? (which is the informal way of asking someone to give you a hand) and the imperative version dame una mano.

When you use this idiom to ask for help, in any of its many versions, keep in mind that mano is a feminine noun, which is why you would use the feminine article una.

You shouldn’t say ¿me das un mano?

If you’re offering a stranger help, because you don’t know them, you should treat them with respect and use the usted version – ¿le doy una mano?

The phrase you might alternatively use is ¿le ayudo? and the full phrase for this particular situation would be:

Listen to audio

¿Le ayudo a cruzar la calle, señor/a?

Shall I help you cross the street, sir/madam?

How should you ask for help in serious scenarios in Spanish?

You could find yourself in an extreme situation and need someone’s help.

If you’ve got home from work and found someone unconscious in your home, socorro is the phrase to use.

It’s a commonly used word in very severe scenarios that you’ll hear in Spanish speaking countries.

Using the subjunctive when asking quiero que me ayudes

Some scenarios might not be as grave as the situation above.

You might want to reiterate to your partner that you want help with chores around the house; that’s where you would use quiero que me ayudes.

Now, quiero que me ayudes uses the subjunctive mood, which means the verb ayudar in this case is conjugated in the subjunctive tense and uses an e instead of an a.

What you should remember when asking someone for help more than once is that you might need to use the subjunctive tense, which is used for three main reasons:

  1. This scenario hasn’t happened—the partner has not helped out around the house and it is a hypothetical situation.
  2. There are two people or subjects present in the sentence which is indicated by the full version of this sentence (yo quiero que tu me ayudes).
  3. The word que regularly indicates that the subjunctive mood should be used.

Asking for help in Spanish: key points to remember

If you find yourself needing to ask for help in Spanish, here are the key things to remember:

The common way to ask for help in serious situations is socorro.

If you need help in a supermarket or retail store, start with perdone, then ask ¿me puede ayudar?

The idiom dar una mano can be used in informal and formal situations depending on who you’re offering help to.

Now you’ve got the right expressions and vocab, ask for help in Spanish with confidence and solve difficult situations without fear.

Can you share any other ways to ask for help in Spanish?

Write it in the comments section below.

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