No one likes to ask for help, but sometimes you have no alternative. For most people, the reason they don't ask somebody to help them when they should is that they worry about the other person refusing (saying 'no').
Although it is impossible to guarantee that somebody will agree to help you doing something, you can decrease the probability of them saying 'no' to you. It all depends on how you ask them: what you say and how you organise/structure what you say in the email.
To help you learn how to write a good email that asks for help, I have created the below exercise. By looking at the below email example and doing the following quiz, you'll not only learn the structure you need to use, but also what type of things to say and the tone you should use when saying them. In addition, you'll also learn some effective English phrases and vocabulary that you can use in your own emails when asking for help.
After you have read the example, make sure to do the quiz at the end. This will ensure that you not only understand the use and purpose of key/important vocabulary, but that you also remember it.
To see examples of other types of business emails and advice on writing them, go to our 'email exercise menu'.
Example & Exercise:
In the following email, Ian is asking a work colleague (Simon) to do something for him. Read the email and think about the structure he uses to ask for help and the type of things he writes about. Also think about what the purpose and meaning of the phrases in bold in the email are.
Then do the quiz at the end to check if you are right.
Click to see more email/letter exercises & examples
I hope you are fine and had a good holiday?
We went to Portugal two years ago. It's a beautiful place and the people are very friendly.
I was wondering if you could do me a favour. I'm writing a presentation on 'changes in modern marketing' to give at the international marketing conference next week. I've nearly finished it and I think it sounds ok. But I think that the PowerPoint slides for the presentation look terrible.
I know that you are very good at creating slides on PowerPoint (your slides always look very professional). Would you mind having a look at them?
I just need you to have a look at them and suggest how I can make them look more professional. There are about 12 slides for the presentation. It shouldn't take longer than an hour to do it. I'd really appreciate it if you could help me.
I would have asked Kevin in my team to check them for me, but he's on holiday until after the conference.
It's no problem if you can't, but could you let me know as soon as you can?
Sorry for asking you to do this, but I wouldn't ask you if it wasn't important.
Below is a definition/description of each of the words/phrases in bold from the above text. Now choose the word/phrase from the question's selection box which you believe answers each question. Only use one word/phrase once. Click on the "Check answers" button at the bottom of the quiz to check your answers.
When the answer is correct, this icon will appear next to the answer. Click on it to find extra information about the word/phrase (e.g. when, where and how to use etc...).
Now that you understand the vocabulary, practise it by writing your own email where you ask for help in English with the new words/phrases.
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