English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

A few times I've encountered phrases of the form "help yourself [something]", for example "help yourself some water". I consider this form to be ungrammatical, but I am not a native speaker. Is it correct to say so?

share|improve this question

closed as general reference by FumbleFingers, tchrist, MετάEd, aedia λ, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Apr 2 '13 at 16:12

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

1  
General Reference. It's "Help yourself to some water", which should be asked on English Learners – FumbleFingers Apr 1 '13 at 12:16
up vote 4 down vote accepted

If help means assist and is followed by a verb, then that verb can appear with or without the infinitive-marker to:

He helps me understand.
He helps me to understand.

Where help means serve, to give yourself a helping, it's followed by a noun or noun phrase as the direct object and it needs the preposition to:

Help yourself to some water.

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.