English as a Second Language/help me vs for me

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Question
Hi Amy,

Many thanks for your help in answering my questions in private last week. I take this opportunity to thank you for your selfless devotion again. Here are some questions I’d like to ask you as follows:

I read the following from an English book:

Could you help me give this letter to Jane? (wrong)
Could you give this letter to Jane for me? (correct)

In English, to help someone do something means you do it with them. When it is not to be done with the person, it is best to use “for” not “help”.
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When I google “ Can you help me check”, it seems that many people use this phrase “Can you help me….”. Some of the examples are as follows:

1. Can you help me to check my grammar of this essay?.
2. Can you help me to check my writing here?
3. Can you help me check what’s wrong with my lens?

I wonder if they are mistaken to use “help me” in the above sentences. Is it better to use “for me” e.g. “Can you check my grammar of this essay for me?”

Thanks.

Best Regards,
CH

Answer
Hello again,

thank you for trusting me with yet another question.

Here is my take on this.

You can help someone by doing something WITH them or FOR them, therefore I guess your confusion.

It is incorrect to say "Could you help me give this letter to Jane?" as help here means having someone else do something FOR you, so the correct form here would be "Could you give this letter to Jane for me?".

With respect to the other 3 situations

1. Can you help me check my grammar of this essay? - this can be done together with the person who helps you, so the above sentence is correct. If you just want someone to check the grammar FOR you (in your absence, sort of speaking) then you'd say "Can/could you (please) check the grammar of this essay FOR me?

2. Can you help me to check my writing here?
3. Can you help me check what’s wrong with my lens?

Same thing - if you and your helper are checking the writing or the lens together, the above sentences are perfectly fine, if instead you'd like the person helping you to do the job by himself/herself (independent of you) then you'd say:

2. Can/could you check my writing here for me, please?

3. Can/could you please check what's wrong with your lens for me?

(using could vs can makes the statement more 'polite'; same with please).

I hope you find the above useful.
Please don't hesitate to contact me with follow up questions or any other English language questions you may have.

Best regards,

Amy Baker

English as a Second Language

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Amy Baker

Expertise

I can answer question about grammar, spelling, syntax, idioms, reading and/or writing that pertain to English as a Second Language. I am knowledgeable about both TOEFL and IELTS.

Experience

I'm a certified ESL teacher with 12 years of experience teaching K-12 and adults.

Education/Credentials
BSc MEd TESL post grad program for k-12 TESL post grad program for adult ed

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