If you are in serious trouble, you can ask for help using the phrase 助けて (tasukete).
助けて (tasukete) means “help!” or “save (me)!” in Japanese.
(Dare ka, tasukete!)
Somebody help me!
However, you need to be careful when you use this word, as it might not be appropriate in some situations.
助けて (Tasukete): The Basics
助けて(tasukete) is the te-form of the verb 助ける(tasukeru), which means “to save,” “to rescue,” or “to help” someone.” The te-form generally implies an imperative action.
It can be conjugated by removing the “る” at the end and adding your preferred form to the verb stem.
る+ ます = 助けます(present affirmative form)
る+ ない = 助けない (present negative form)
る+ た = 助けた (past affimative form)
る+ て = 助けて (te-form)
The Nuance of (助けて) Tasukete
This is where things get tricky. In English, the word “help” can be used for any situation. You can say “help” when you need to be rescued or when you just need some assistance doing your homework.
However, 助ける (tasukeru) in Japanese is only used for situations when you or someone else needs to be “rescued” or “saved.”
For example, if a child’s life is in danger, their parent can say the following:
(Uchi no ko o douka tasukete kudasai!)
Please help (literally: SAVE) my child!
Using Tasukete On Its Own (Without a Full Sentence)
助けて (tasukete) can be used on its own without any other parts of a sentence. In this case, it means that the speaker is the person who needs help.
“Me,” in this case, can be dropped from the sentence, as it is clear from the context that you are referring to yourself (unless someone else is referred to in the sentence).
If you want to sound more polite, you can add ください in the end:
Please help me!
However, the degree of urgency in this case is lower. If the situation is urgent and something needs to be done quickly, you don’t have to worry about sounding polite.
Using Tasukete with Nouns
When you want to express that someone else needs help, 助けて should be used with a noun as follows:
Noun + を + 助けて (+ください)
(Kanojo o tasukete kudasai!)
Please help (save) her!
(Ano tori o tasukete kudasai!)
Please help(save) that bird!
助けて！ (Tasukete) Vs. 助けてくれ！ (Tasukete Kure)
くれ (kure) is an informal imperative form of the verb “くれる” (kureru), which means “to be given” or “to do something for someone.”
When it is used with a te-form of a verb, it means that the action (verb) is directed towards you or is done for you.
助けて (tasukete) is a general statement, like saying “help!” in English.
助けてくれ (tasukete kure) is more focused on you receiving a favor. This is close to the English phrase, “help me!” Just like in English, you could be asking for help on behalf of someone else.
(Kare o tasukete kure!)
Help him! (literally, “do me a favor and help him!)
That being said, the biggest difference between “助けて!” and “助けてくれ!” you’ll notice in natural conversations is:
- 助けて can be used by both men and women
- 助けてくれ is a rougher expression, so it is usually only used by men
1. A man or woman is drowning. They need help so they scream for help by saying:
Help (save) me!
2. A man is drowning. He needs help so he screams for help by saying:
Thanking Someone for Their Help
If you want to thank a particular someone for helping (saving) you, you can use the following phrase:
(Tasukete kurete arigatō.)
Thanks for helping me.
The te-form of 助ける (tasukeru) + the te-form of くれる (kureru) + ありがとう (arigatō) is a way you can thank someone for helping you.
You can also replace the 助けて with other verbs to express your appreciation.
(Kyō wa kite kurete arigatō.)
Thanks for coming today.
(Oishii gohan o tsukutte kurete arigatō.)
Thanks for making the delicious food.
助ける (Tasukeru) Vs. 助かる (Tasukaru): What is the Difference?
While these two verbs have the same meaning, “to help/save/rescue,” the difference between them can be explained using the table below.
|助ける (tasukeru)||助かる (tasukaru)|
|Object (O)+を+助ける||Subject (S) + は + 助かる|
|Has a direct object (O) = transitive verb||NO direct object = intransitive verb|
Understanding transitive and intransitive verbs is essential in becoming fluent in Japanese. Check out our transitive and intransitive verbs guide to learn all about it.
(Ano kotachi o kanarazu tasukeru!)
I will definitely save those kids!
(Watashitachi wa kitto tasukaru!)
We will definitely be saved!
When is 助かる Used?
The most common occasion to use the verb 助かる is when you want to express that you benefit from somebody else’s help/actions. It’s like saying, “That/You really helped me out!”
(Okage de tasukatta yo!)
I was saved thanks to you!
(Namae o oshiete kureru to tasukarimasu.)
It would be very helpful if you could tell me your name.
It was very helpful to me!
(Oshiete itadaite arigatō gozaimasu. Taihen tasukarimasu.)
Thank you for telling me. It helps a lot.
As you can see from the examples above, 2 points stand out when using the verb 助かる (tasukaru):
- The speaker is the one who benefits from the situation.
- There is no direct object in the sentence, meaning that the action of helping/saving is not directed towards anything/anyone.
助ける (Tasukeru) Vs. 手伝う (Tetsudau)
What should you say if you help with non-life-threatening situations like homework, cooking, or cleaning?
For this type of casual help, 手伝う (tetsudau) would be the right word to use.
手伝う (tetsudau) also means “to help” or “to assist” someone with doing something.
The sentence structure with 手伝う looks as follows:
Subject + の + noun + を + 手伝う
- The subject is the person/thing you are helping.
- The noun is WHAT you are helping with.
(Imōto no shukudai o tetsudaitai.)
I want to help my sister with her homework.
(Okā-san no sōji o tetsudatta.)
I helped my mum clean.
(Watashi no nimotsu hakobu no o tetudatte kurenai?)
Can you help me carry the luggage?
You can master this phrase if you remember these 3 points:
- If you are in an urgent or emergency type of situation or need to be rescued, you can call for help using 助けて！ (tasukete!).
- If you need some “casual” help with everyday things, using 手伝う (tetsudau) is best.
- If you want to express that you will benefit from someone else’s help, use the verb 助かる (tasukaru).
Now you are fully ready to ask for help in Japanese!