6 Handy Ways to Say ‘Do you need help?’ in Spanish

Imagine you’re in a Spanish-speaking country and suddenly you see someone who seems to be in a bit of a pickle. Your instinct is to help out, but you’re not quite sure how to approach the person!

Well, fret not because this list of 6 ways to ask ‘do you need help?’ in Spanish will prepare you precisely for such an occasion.

Let’s get right to it!


‘Do you need help’ is mostly expressed in the following ways –

1. ¿Necesitas ayuda? (informal “” form) = Do you need help?

2. ¿Necesita ayuda? (formal “usted” form) = Do you need help?

3. ¿Te/Le puedo ayudar en algo? = Can I help you with anything?

1 ¿Necesitas ayuda? (informal) – Do you need help?

The Spanish equivalent of ‘do you need help?’ is ‘¿necesitas ayuda?’.

Although it’s conjugated in the ‘tú’ form – the “informal you in Spanish –, it’s still a very polite question, so feel free to use it with acquaintances and strangers alike.

Un compañero de la escuela tiene problemas para abrir su casillero

Raúl – ¿Necesitas ayuda?

Miguel – Oh, sí, gracias. Creo que tengo que cambiar el candado.

Raúl – No, con que le pongas aceite se arregla.

A classmate is having trouble opening his locker

Raul – Do you need help?

Miguel – Oh, yes, thank you. I think I need to change the lock.

Raúl – Nah, you just need to put some oil on it.

2 ¿Necesita ayuda? (formal)

In many parts of the Spanish-speaking world, including Mexico, the pronoun ‘usted’ is usually used as a “formal you”, to show respect to your interlocutor (if they’re an authority figure, an elder or a stranger, for example).

On such occasions, you can omit the ‘s’ at the end of ‘necesitas’ and say ‘¿necesita ayuda?’ instead.

HOWEVER, don’t be surprised if you hear people use ‘usted’ as the informal – and commonplace form of – ‘you’, especially if you happen to be in Costa Rica, Colombia, or Guatemala!

Una anciana tiene problemas para cargar sus bolsas de mercado

Moisés – ¿Necesita ayuda, señora?

Catalina – ¡Gracias, joven! Si me ayuda a llevar esta bolsa al coche, le agradeceré mucho.

An old woman is struggling to carry her shopping bags

Moses – Do you need help, ma’am?

Catalina – Thank you, young man! If you help me carry this bag to the car, I’d be extremely grateful.

3 ¿Te / Le puedo ayudar en algo? – Can I help you with anything?

If what you’re actually trying to ask is ‘can I help you with anything?’, there are also two ways to phrase the question: ‘¿te puedo ayudar en algo? (informal) and ‘¿le puedo ayudar en algo?’ (formal) –

¿Le puedo ayudar en algo, señor? Parece perdido …

Can I help you with anything? You seem lost …

¿Sigues estudiando para el examen de mañana? ¿Te puedo ayudar en algo, hijo?

Are you still studying for tomorrow’s test? Can I help you with anything, son?

4 ¿Cómo te / le puedo ayudar? – How can I help you?

If you want to say ‘how can I help you?’ in Spanish, just use ‘¿cómo te puedo ayudar?’ (informal ‘tú’) or ‘¿cómo le puedo ayudar?’ (formal ‘usted’) –

Iker – ¡Ya casi es hora de la fiesta y se me quemó el pastel!

Priscila – Tranquilo, aún hay tiempo. Dime, ¿cómo te puedo ayudar?

Iker – Okey, creo que podemos hacer un pie helado.

Iker – It’s almost time for the party and I burned the cake!

Priscila – Relax, there’s still time. How can I help you?

Iker – Okay, I think we can make a frozen pie.

Durante un incendio

Alex – ¡Vi el fuego desde mi casa! ¿Cómo le puedo ayudar?

Elizabeth – Los bomberos vienen en camino, ayúdeme a alertar a todos los vecinos.

During a fire

Alex – I saw the fire from my house! How can I help you?

Elizabeth – The firefighters are on their way, help me alert all the neighbors.

5 ¿En qué puedo ayudarte / le? – How can I help you?

‘¿En qué puedo ayudarte?’ (informal) and ‘¿en qué puedo ayudarle?’ (formal) would translate literally as ‘in what can I help you?’, but they’re actually just two more ways of saying ‘how can I help you?’.

En el consultorio de la doctora

Jaime – Gracias por recibirme esta tarde.

Alessa – Claro, no te preocupes. Dime, ¿en qué puedo ayudarte?

At the doctor’s office

Jaime – Thank you for seeing me this evening.

Alessa – Sure, don’t worry about it. Tell me, how can I help you?

Alguien toca a la puerta

Andrea – ¡Buenas*! ¿En qué puedo ayudarle, vecina?

Tamara – ¡Buenas! Disculpe la molestia, ¿de casualidad tendrá un desarmador que me preste?

Someone knocks on the door

Andrea – Mornin’*! How can I help you, neighbor?

Tamara – Morning! Sorry to bother you, do you happen to have a screwdriver I can borrow?

*Erika’s top tip – ‘buenas’ is a very common greeting in Mexico! When used instead of ‘buenos días’ it means something the likes of the English expression ‘mornin’’.

Be sure to check out our article on ‘buenos’ and ‘buenas’ if you wanna find out more.

6 ¿Qué necesitas? – What do you need?

You can also ask ‘¿qué necesitas?’ (or ‘what do you need?’ in English) if you want to find out EXACTLY what your interlocutor needs help with.

For the formal version, just remove the ‘s’ at the end of ‘necesitas’ and you’ll be good to go!

Un bebé agita los brazos y llora

Madre – ¿Qué necesitas, mi amor? ¿Quieres tu biberón?

A baby shakes his arms and cries

Mother – What do you need, my love? Do you want your bottle?

Un hombre mira angustiado el letrero de una calle

Alfonso – Perdón*, ¿le podría pedir un favor?

Ben – Claro, señor, ¿qué necesita?

Alfonso – ¿Me podría decir qué dice el letrero? Mi vista es muy mala y perdí mis lentes.

A man looks at a street sign with anguish

Alfonso – Excuse me, could I ask you a favor?

Ben – Sure, sir, what do you need?

Alfonso – Could you tell me what the sign says? My eyesight is very bad and I’ve lost my glasses.

*Erika’s note – ‘Perdón’ means ‘sorry’ or ‘forgive me’ in English, but it can also be used as a synonym of ‘excuse me’.

Final thoughts

Being able to express yourself in more than one way is a sure-fire route to fluency and sounding more native.

Hopefully these phrases will also come in handy when you need to lend a helping hand!

Ready to expand your repertoire of expressions even further? Well, make sure to check out our list of all the different ways to respond to ‘adiós!

¡Hasta pronto!

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