How exactly do you say can I help you in Italian?
In this lesson, we will take a look at the different ways you can offer your help in Italian. Read on to learn them all!
Can I help you?
Let’s start! Iniziamo!
How do you say can I help you in Italian?
Singular: Posso aiutarti?
Posso aiutarti is how you most commonly translate can I help you into Italian when you are addressing only one person you are on familiar terms with.
Can I help you?
This common question in Italian is made of three elements.
Can I, I can
Direct object pronoun “you” (informal)
Posso aiutarti in qualche modo?
Can I help you in any way?
Posso comes from potere, can, which is a modal verb and it belongs to the second -ere group. Its indicativo presente conjugation is irregular and is as follows.
Present tense conjugation for potere
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Federico si è sposato? Non può essere vero!
Federico got married? It can’t be true!
Puoi chiudere la finestra, per favore?
Can you close the window, please?
Then we have aiutare, which means to help. From this verb we can create the noun l’aiuto, the help.
There’s one caveat though: you can use the variant posso aiutarti? only with friends and people you know well. Italian has an informal “you” and a formal “you”!
If you want to offer your help to a stranger, your boss at work or someone you need to show respect to, you will need to use the formal “you” pronoun. We’ll see that in the next paragraph.
Polite: Posso aiutarla?
Posso aiutarla? is the polite way to say can I help you in Italian to one person.
Can I help you?
Direct object pronoun “you” (formal)
Once again we have a conjugation of potere and the verb aiutare, but what about the final pronoun which is appended to the infinitive verb? Well, that’s the formal “you” direct object pronoun.
So if your boss falls and scrapes their knee, you will ask posso aiutarLA?.
If your friend needs help, you will ask them posso aiutarTI?.
You will often hear this in shops:
Come posso aiutarla?
How can I help you?
If you use the informal you with your boss or a stranger, it may sound weird. You may even sound rude, so be careful not to confuse the two forms!
Now, how do you ask can I help you in Italian to a group of people?
Aiuta Lingookies con un 👍!
Plural: Posso aiutarvi?
The English pronoun you covers both singular and plural pronouns. However, Italian has two distinctive pronouns.
You will be happy to know that there’s no longer a polite way to say “you” in the plural, so there are actually only three ways to say can I help you in Italian.
Alright, how do you offer your help to groups of people?
Can I help you? (plural)
Direct object pronoun “you” (plural)
If you see a couple needing help, ask posso aiutarVI? as in this way you will address both people or all people in a given group.
And that’s it, now you know how to offer your help and say can I help you in Italian in all its forms!
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2 thoughts on “Can I help you in Italian”
How do you say “Let me help you!”? Do you use “lasciare”? Translator apps give the phrase “lasci che l’aiuti” which I don’t really understand. Why is it “aiuti”? Thank you.
Hi Emily, there are different translations for this sentence depending on who you are talking to.
Lascia che ti aiuti – informal (your friend, your brother, etc.)
Lasciate che vi aiuti – plural, both formal and informal
Lasci che l’aiuti – polite (your boss, a clerk, etc.)
As for “aiuti”, it’s because in this type of sentence structure “lasciare che…”, the verb must be conjugated in the subjunctive mood.
The first-person present subjunctive for “aiutare” is che io aiuti. This is why we say lascia che ti aiuti!
Other examples with “lasciare che” using the subjunctive case:
Lascia che porti lui la valigia – Let him carry the suitcase (portare, “che io porti”)
Lasciate che Marta pulisca la cucina da sola – Let Marta clean the kitchen alone (pulire, “che lei pulisca”)
Lasci che sia io a pagare il conto – Let me be the one to pay the bill (essere, “che io sia”)
Hope this helps!