Can I help you in Italian

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!

Posso aiutarti?
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.

Posso aiutarti?
Can I help you?

woman offering help to a crying friend

This common question in Italian is made of three elements.

Posso
Can I, I can

Aiutare
To help

-ti
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

ioposso
tupuoi
lui, leipuò
noipossiamo
voipotete
loropossono

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?

boy looking out the open window

Then we have aiutare, which means to help. From this verb we can create the noun l’aiuto, the help.

Aiutare
To help

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.

Posso aiutarla?
Can I help you?

-la
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.

man helping another man - formal way to say can i help you in italian

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?

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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?

Posso aiutarvi?
Can I help you? (plural)

-vi
Direct object pronoun “you” (plural)

man helping an old woman and a small child

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!


What next?

➡️ Learn other common Italian questions!

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