I found this sentence watching one of the videos about “would” on YouTube:

He wouldn’t have been much help anyway

For me it sounds weird. Why “help” and not “helpful”? What rules in there? That video was made by native English speakers and I believe them, but i just don’t understand.

  • 1
    This isn't good enough for an answer, but note that you could use "helpful" here if you remove "much" (since "helpful" is an adjective, and "help" is a noun): He wouldn't have been helpful anyway. If you wrote very helpful, it has the same meaning as the original sentence.
    – user428517
    Jul 17 '18 at 19:55
  • There is some implication with these types of utterances: Had he tried to help, he wouldn't have been much help. There is another clause that is implied in the discourse even though it is not explicitly stated. In formal expressions: to be of help to someone. People often leave off the of.
    – Lambie
    Jul 17 '18 at 20:43

'Help' used this way is a non-count noun, and usually not used alone, but with a determiner, e.g. no help at all, very little, little, not much, any, some, a lot of, less, more help, etc. Something which is, or someone who is, not much help, is not very useful. To say that something or someone is a lot of help means the opposite. Your house burnt down. You can stay with me if that would be any help.



1.1 The fact of being useful. ‘the skimpy manual isn't much help for beginners’

Help (Oxford Dictionaries)

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