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  5. "Kiel mi povas helpi vin?"

"Kiel mi povas helpi vin?"

Translation:How can I help you?

June 2, 2015



Is there a distinction between "can" and "may" in Esperanto?


It exists, but it's not mandatory. "Povi" means both "can" and "may". "Kapabli" means "can" (to be able to), and "rajti" means "may" (have the right to, be allowed to).


I would have answered that this is the wrong question. "Can" and "may" are English words, so the distinction between them exists only in English.

If the original question (now two years old) was about the expressing en Esperanto the difference between:

  • How may I help you?
  • How can i help you?

My first question would be - what is the difference in meaning that you perceive in English? We need to know what the difference is before talking about how to express that difference in Esperanto.


I agree with you about this. However, I think translating this sentence with the word 'rajti' would sound very odd.


Would "Kiel novas mi helpi vin?" be acceptable?


It is a bit unusual to put mi after povas, but not really an error.


"Kiel povas mi helpi vin?" puts more stress on ‘povas.’ You avoid the answer “Ĉu vi? Tute neniel.” But you risk the answer “Neniel, ĉar vi kapablas nenion.” :-) But hopefully the other will say: “Dankon, faru jenan por mi.”


You've just said a lot of words I don't understand haha


I too prefer that order


If you mean that inversion of subject / verb should be used to express a question, Esperanto has “ĉu” for that, so there is not need to invert. Questions are formed like statements, except for the initial “ĉu.”

[deactivated user]

    Not only is inversion (or any changing of word-order) not needed in Esperanto to form a question, changing the word order in Esperanto usually makes no difference to the meaning of a sentence. For instance, "Mi trinkas bonan kafon", "Bonan kafon mi trinkas", and "Trinkas mi bonan kafon" all mean the same thing.


    Maybe you mean “not needed?” And while your examples essentially mean the same thing they put emphasis on different things.

    [deactivated user]

      Thanks. I've edited my message accordingly.


      How can I help you? To me the help isn't a to help but more of a verb of help, worthy of the-as.


      Maybe think of it as "am able" rather than "can" so a literal approach is "How I am able to help you?" which, made more like normal English is, "How am I able to help you?".


      That's helped, I was also struggling with why it was helpi instead of helpas, but with "am able" the transliteration makes sense. :)


      whats the difference between helpon and helpi?

      [deactivated user]

        "helpo" is the noun "help", as in "Thank you for your help." ("Dankon pro via helpo.") When you put an n on the end of "helpo", ("helpon") you make the noun accusative, that is it is the thing that is having something done to it, as in "He requested help" (Li petis helpon). "He" is doing something, requesting. "Help" is having something done to it - it is being requested.

        "helpi" is "to help", the infinitive form of the verb. "Li volas helpi vin" for example, means "He wants to help you".

        Does that answer your question? I hope so.


        Thanks so much! I totally forgot about the noun "help" and was only thinking about the verb "to help". This has made it so much clearer!

        [deactivated user]

          Nedankinde! (Don't mention it!) I'm happy to have helped you.


          What is the diffrence between helpas and helpi

          [deactivated user]

            "Helpi" is the infinitive form of the verb, the same as the English "to help". "Helpas" is the present tense of the same verb, so "Mi helpas" means "I help", "Li helpas" means "he helps", and so on.


            Welcome to McDonalds, kiel mi povas helpi vin?

            [deactivated user]

              This is the only multiple choice I have seen with just 2 choices.

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