HomeQ&A"To help her do something" - where is the direct object ?

"To help her do something" - where is the direct object ?

5
votes

Grammar gurus

This is killing me and I need to understand how verbs like "ayudar" work. Something is weird about them and this is a global problem not just a spanish one.

"I help her do it"

I can break this down in one of 2 ways.

Option1:

  1. Subject "I"
  2. Verb "help"
  3. Direct object "do it"
  4. Indirect object "her".

This means that the action of "help" goes directly to the "doing it" and "the doing it" is considered a noun. This direct object then goes to the indirect object which is "her". This means that "I help her" becomes "Le ayudo" and has nothing to do with leismo.

Or

Option2:

  1. Subject "I"
  2. Verb "help do something"
  3. Direct Object "her"

This means that the action of "help do something" goes directly to "her" making "her" the direct object and there is no indirect object. This means that "I help her" becomes "La ayudo" and any "le" in here would be leismo.

My problem with option1 is that I don't see how "do it" can be considered a direct object. I think of a direct object as a person or a thing but not another action of sorts. However, one could argue that the "help" I'm giving really goes to whatever I'm helping her with and not her directly. It'd also explain "Le ayudo" without leismo.

My problem with option2 is that now I have meshed to actions "help" and "do sth" into one and I'm not sure that can be done. However, it feels natural to assume that "she" is the direct receiver of my "helping". However, now "Le ayudo" would have to be leismo for sure.

To sum it up - Who receives the help ? The thing I'm helping her with or her ? This is important since I need to know if we have a true "le" or a leismo'fied "la".

Please help me break this down.

12157 views
updated ABR 5, 2010
edited by stucky101
posted by stucky101

12 Answers

2
votes

First of all, the use of "le" with ayudar would have to be leísmo. The RAE has "ayudar" as a transitive verb. So in both "ayudarlo a hacer algo" and "ayudarle a hacer algo", we're looking at a verb with a direct object (and no indirect object).

The direct object is the person or thing receiving the help. In "ayudar a hacer algo", the infinitive phrase is not an object, it is a subordinate clause introduced by the complementary preposition "a". It tells us more about the verb: that the help is aimed towards doing a specific thing. Hope that makes sense. The reference page on perífrasis verbales might be good to look at for other verbs that behave similarly.

Edit: It seems to me that "ayudar" is used both transtitively and intransitively. If a the direct object is present, “ayudar” might be translated “to help [something/someone]”, and if not, something more like “to be of help”.

For example:

  1. Ayudó a salir a la joven / La ayudó a salir.

It must be the case that “la joven” is the direct object (were it an indirect object, it would be “Le ayudó…”). “La joven” receives the help (it does not make sense for “salir” to be an object of “ayudar” because it preceded by the preposition “a”: we are helping to leave, not "helping leave"). Thus: He helped the youth to leave. La ayudó a salir: he helped her to leave.

But you also have:

  1. ¿Cómo puedo ayudar?

With no specific direct object, it becomes just a general offer of help. How can I be of help?

  1. Le ayuda a ella / Le ayuda.

Here “ella” is an indirect object, sort of like “he is of help to her”.

That seems to be the most consistent explanation to me. I'd really like to know if that's at all correct!

updated ABR 5, 2010
edited by limes
posted by limes
1
vote

a·yu·dar

tr.

to help, assist, aid

Idiom:

ayudar a

to help to

le ayudé a bajar I helped her to get down


leísmo or not-others share the confusion

anoher vote that ayudarle is a leísmo

updated ABR 5, 2010
edited by 0074b507
posted by 0074b507
1
vote

Whom or what do you help to do something? This will give you the direct object. Whom do you help? Her

Yo la ayudo hacer la tarea. I help her do the homework.

updated ABR 4, 2010
posted by Delores--Lindsey
0
votes

webdunce

The reason "it do matter some" to me is simply that I'm afraid I'll misinterpret something as "leísmo" when it isn't that's all. This causes me to totally misunderstand/misinterpret the sentence. I had a discussion with Paralee and she said she tries not to use *ismos in her translations so when I spot what appears to be one I'd like to know whether it is an accidental *ismo or not. If accidental we need to fix it - otherwise we need to understand the "le" properly.

updated ABR 5, 2010
posted by stucky101
0
votes

Also, I think it is significant that when you type "ayudarle" into google, google gives three suggestions, one of which is "ayudarle o ayudarlo," indicating that this topic is possibly frequently searched for -- even by native speakers.

updated ABR 5, 2010
posted by webdunce
My conclusion is "it don't hardly matter none" to use southeastern phraseology. - webdunce, ABR 5, 2010
0
votes

I have read at least two or three statements that make me think that le/les acts somewhat like English's "impersonal they," (which is a technical grammatical term I made up just now). With "impersonal they," if a person is first referred to by a gender-neutral reference (someone, somebody, a person, etc), then I -- and many in the southeastern states -- will refer to that person later using "they," even though the person being referred to is singular.

Ex.:

Somebody is coming later to fix the stove, but they should be here before noon.

Two or three posts in threads linked to in this thread have indicated that -- at least to some native speakers -- "le" feels like a gender-neutral DO (unless I misunderstood). I think that would be an example of leísmo, though.

Just trying to add to the confusion.

updated ABR 5, 2010
posted by webdunce
0
votes

Delores

No offense but how have you managed to get to advanced Spanish without having bumped into leísmo ? It seems impossible. It's just about the craziest thing I've ever encountered with any language and a huge obstacle for learners.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leismo

Limes

I agree with your latest assessment but I am as unsure about it as you are - hence the thread. It appears to me that now we have 3 choices to explain "¿Le ayudo?"

  1. "Can I help you?". Transitive use with hidden/implied direct object and the person being the indirect object. If so what is the implied direct object ?

  2. "Can I help you?". Transitive use with dop "lo" which was changed to "le" because of leísmo de cortesía. (Using "le" for "lo" when refering to usted)

  3. "Can I be of help to you ? Intransitive use so no direct object exists and "le" is a proper iop. This would sound friendlier I assume ?

I'm leaning towards option 3. since ayudar can be intransitive and it seems most consistent with native speakers saying its just much friendlier but I guess other speakers might use it for reasons 1. or 2. as well ?

Is there no clear winner ?

updated ABR 5, 2010
posted by stucky101
Stucky, maybe I was lucky to have avoided Léismo, or maybe I was asleep in class that day. :-) Thanks for your explanation! Delores - Delores--Lindsey, ABR 5, 2010
0
votes

Delores

I tried to ask the old "whom or what?" question but what threw me off is this: If I ask "whom do I help ?" the answer is clearly "her" but if I ask "what do I help ?" its tempting to answer "do the homework". No ?

updated ABR 5, 2010
posted by stucky101
Stucky, Think of the verb as "to help to do" and then ask what. - Delores--Lindsey, ABR 5, 2010
0
votes

Here's a thread about ayudarlo vs. ayudarle that should make it all clear as mud for you. smile In it, people who appear (to me) to be native speakers disagree about which one to use, and another says he uses both without distinction.

updated ABR 5, 2010
edited by webdunce
posted by webdunce
0
votes

Is there no clear winner ?

Perhaps not. I googled "la ayudó" and "le ayudó" and came up with examples of each where the person le / la referred to was female and not being referred to as usted (I think)...converting lo to le is a leísmo, la is not so converted...or so I understand.

Could it be that in some regions the person receiving the help is considered an IO and in others a DO? Spanish seems that flexible to me (a flexibility I dislike). But it seems possible to me that some people might view the person being helped as directly receiving the helping action while others may view that person as the one for whom the helping action is performed.

On the other hand, I could be way off base here.

updated ABR 5, 2010
edited by webdunce
posted by webdunce
Yeah you're thinking along the same lines as I but I'd loooove some confirmation !! We all seem to be guessing away here... - stucky101, ABR 5, 2010
0
votes

Gfreed

Funny to find an old post from myself 6 months later. That first link has an anonymous answer in there that is actually mine.

I wanna make an important distinction between 2 discussions here. I'm not even gonna bother anymore to try and figure out why leismo exists and what reasoning its based on. I just accept it.

I simply wanna learn to distinguish it from a real iop and that's what this discussion is about. What cracks me up are people who point to the dictionary's label of "vt" vs. "vi" when sooo many verbs (like ayudar) are both so how does that help me ?

If it is so easy then why can't anyone give me a clear answer ? I looked at this sites example again and its intransitive example involves no object pronoun at all.

¿puedo ayudar? -> can I help?

However, the transitive example has either no dop or an implied dop or its leismo.

¿En qué puedo ayudarle? -> how can I help you?

According to my other very, similar thread Paralee doesn't use *ismos for her examples.

http://www.spanishdict.com/answers/132927/how-to-distinguish-lesmo-from-true-iop-

I'll ask her again about this example. I'm thinking this might have been another leismo that slipped in....

updated ABR 5, 2010
edited by stucky101
posted by stucky101
0
votes

Limes

Wait a minute. I used to think like that but had to realize that's not true. According to your theory the transitive verb "escribir" used in

Le escribo

Would have to be leísmo but its not. The "le" here is a true iop based on the fact that the dop is implied (letter/email) and she/he is the iop. That's the mistake I used to make where once I spotted a "le" I automatically assumed I had an intransitive verb. Aren't you making the same mistake with your statement ?

"First of all, the use of "le" with ayudar would have to be leísmo. The RAE has "ayudar" as a transitive verb."

Can you please clarify ?

Thanks for the link though. So this means that the verb is not "help" but "help do" right ? Although we're not really changing the meaning of "help" as in "voy a pensar". I'd say we merely narrow "help" down to "help do sth". Is that really a Periphrase ?

updated ABR 4, 2010
posted by stucky101
Please explain for me what is "leísmo". Gracias! - Delores--Lindsey, ABR 4, 2010
You are right, I was sloppy. I have amended my answer. Good question! - limes, ABR 4, 2010
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