I'm doing my grammar practice in which a question confuses with me.

I'm afraid your suggestion can't help ( ) the service of their shop.

A. improve

B. improving

C. in improving

D. for improving

Definitely C and D both are inappropriate, but the correct option is A, I do not know why, and I can not find an explanation in my dictionary to give the option C a similar record in which 'can't help do' can be used.

My dictionary said so (in Japanese):

can’t [(よりかたく)cànnot] hélp doing = (主に米)can’t [(よりかたく)cànnot] hélp bùt do *

Translated into English:

can’t [(more informal than)cànnot] hélp doing = (chiefly GA)can’t [(more informal than)cànnot] hélp bùt do *

And there has no 'cannot help do' or 'can't help do'.

1 Answer 1


Cannot help doing and cannot help but do mean cannot stop oneself from doing something.

He's sometimes annoying, but I can't help liking him.

However, this is not the sense required in your sentence. I'm afraid that implies that the suggestion will not improve the service, so can't help here means cannot be of any assistance.

I would say can't help to improve, but as this isn't one of the options I would use A or C - not B because that implies the other sense of can't help.

  • I agree. I wouldn't say can't help improve.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented May 22, 2022 at 15:23
  • @ColinFine - Kate - "People can't help improve health services if they don't know who to talk to.", "OK, so we can't help improve the weather this month… But we can help you love Mondays." "Why NPS and CSAT scores can't help improve your customer experience strategy." "If you don't measure it, you can't help improve it, and our insights will help accelerate change in our sector at a global level." Commented May 22, 2022 at 15:30
  • @MichaelHarvey: I find all those odd. I find a base verb natural after help but not after (the idiom) can't help.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented May 22, 2022 at 15:46
  • @MichaelHarvey - I didn't mean to imply that help improve was wrong, just that I prefer to include to. Commented May 22, 2022 at 16:23

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