Help or Aid?

02 June 2023

Hello! This week on Ask a Teacher, we will answer a question about the difference between "help" and "aid."


Dear teacher,

Ask a Teacher: Help or Aide?
Ask a Teacher: Help or Aide?

I am Mayer from Colombia. I have been listening to the podcast since May 2020, and I have learned so much.

I would like to ask you about the difference between "aid" and "help."




Thank you, Mayer for writing to us and listening to our podcast!

The words "aid" and "help" can sometimes mean the same thing, but there are a few differences. Let us look at these two words more closely.


As a verb, "help" means to assist or to give support. When you help someone, you make things easier for them in some way.

He helped me make dinner last night.

As a noun, "help" means the act of doing something in support of someone, to complete a task for, or to make it easier for the person. It can also be an action taken if a person is in danger and needs to be rescued or supported.

She could use your help tomorrow night at the party.

Their neighbors gave them help after their house caught fire.

I yelled, "Help," when I fell and broke my leg.


Like "help," the word "aid" can be either a verb or a noun.

As a verb, "aid" means providing what is useful or necessary.

I aided the teacher by handing out graded papers.

"Aid" as a noun can also be the supplies, materials or support that are provided.

When we think of "aid" we think of organizations, governments and people providing necessary things like food, clothing, money and equipment to those who need it.

The organization provided aid to those affected by the earthquake.

Also, as a noun, "aid" can be something used to help perform a task.

Visual aids can be useful for learning.

An "aide," with the letter "e" on the end, is a person who assists someone. Sometimes they can be a caregiver to an elderly person or a person with a disability. An "aide" also can be a person who assists someone with their tasks, like a teacher or government official.

Lori gets experience in the classroom by being a teacher's aide.

Please let us know if these explanations and examples have helped you, Mayer.

What question do you have about American English? Send us an email at

And that's Ask a Teacher.

I'm Faith Pirlo.

Faith Pirlo wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

visual adj. of, relating to, done by, or used in seeing

elderlyadj. old or rather old; past middle age