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bāng máng
v. to help
Discussion of 帮忙/幫忙
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In this post we discuss 帮忙 and 帮助. These two basic Chinese verbs both mean “to help” but they are quite different in usage. Many beginning learners do not know how to use them correctly. In this post we discuss the differences of these words.

帮助 is a typical verb. It is always used as a word to form phrases or sentences. This is to say, 帮 and 助 are closely linked to each other, and it is impossible to separate them. 帮助 has to appear together as one word.
Example 1. 他很愿意帮助别人。 [phr] He is very willing to help other people.

帮忙 represents a category of special verbs. 帮忙 can be used together as one word (Example 2), or they can be separated in a sentence (Example 3~6). We call this type of verbs “separable verbs”. There are many other verbs of the same type. The most frequently used ones may include: 见面、跳舞、睡觉、结婚、听话、打架、发火、生气、住院、留学, etc.
Example 2. 周末的时候我在父亲的商店里帮忙。 [phr] I often help my father do the business in his shop during weekends.
Example 3. 我不想帮他的忙。 [phr] I don’t want to help him.
Example 4. 他曾经给我帮过忙。 [phr] He helped me once.
Example 5. 我帮了他三个多小时的忙,他却一句“谢谢”都没说。[phr]I helped him for over three hours, but he didn’t even say “thanks” (to me).
Example 6. 这事儿你还是找别人吧,我帮不了什么忙。 [phr] As for this matter, you'd better ask someone else. I can't be much of a help.

* Attention: Some aspects of separable verbs that are different from other typical verbs:
A) Separable verbs cannot be followed by an object. How do we add an object to such a verb then? We insert it in-between (Example 3,帮他的忙), or we use a preposition to introduce it into the sentence (Example 4, 给 Obj)
B) Separable verbs cannot be followed by particles such as 着、了、过. We have to insert them in-between (Example 4,帮过忙)
C) Separable verbs cannot be followed by a complement. Likewise, we have to insert the complement in-between (Example 6, 帮不了)
D) Separable verbs have different reduplicated forms. For exa
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