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Am I right to think the following announcement wrong in its use of the indefinite article?

Do you need a help in Biology or Chemistry? Consider joining our Friday Chemistry and Biology Tutoring Club.

Shouldn't it read instead:

Do you need help in Biology or Chemistry? Consider joining our Friday Chemistry and Biology Tutoring Club.

Or is "a help" OK in some instances? Like "a person who would help you to learn Biology or Chemistry"?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

You can say:

Do you need help in biology or chemistry?

or

Do you need a tutor in biology or chemistry?

But you can't say "Do you need a help in biology or chemistry?" You can, however, use "a help" to describe someone who is helpful, as in:

You're a real help when it comes to biology homework.

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Ditto godel9.

"Help" in this case is an uncountable noun. You are not getting "1 help" or "2 helps", you are getting general help.

Sometimes we say "a help" when referring to one specific act. Like, "Do you need a help to reach that jar on the top shelf?" But even there, just saying "Do you need help ..." is more common. The only common use of "a help" that I can think of is when describing a person or tool that was useful to you, like "John was a big help with my biology homework" or "That electric drill was a big help in putting the bookcase together."

You could say, "do you need a helper?", meaning a person. But as godel9 says, if what you are offering is tutoring services, it would be more conventional to say "do you need a tutor" than "do you need a helper".

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