I just read a sentence in Longman Dictionary, under its entry for help yourself (to something):

Children may be referred by teachers or parents or may even ask for help themselves.

I am confused about that usage of refer. Generally to refer means: to describe sth, to transfer etc.

What is the meaning that the sentence is trying to convey here?

2 Answers 2


It's impossible to tell without further context.

But, while we're at it, I think that example in that dictionary is an error. The meaning in that sentence is not that the children may take something. It is instead that the children may literally ask for help, rather than it being necessary that their parents ask for help for them.

  • 1
    The sentence sounds like it is describing getting medical help, i.e. a referral. That linked dictionary has at least one other "example" that is clearly not applicable to the words in question, so I don't trust that dictionary either.
    – Valkor
    Sep 4, 2019 at 7:00
  • Or a referral to some other educational help service. It's really impossible to tell. Sep 4, 2019 at 7:26

I think the sentence means children may not only be helped by teachers and parents but also they may help themselves which means they can learn themselves

Refer can be used without the preposition to

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