21

I often see people write "hope this helps" at the end of a communication, especially when they are trying to answer other people's queries about computer problems.

Recently, my English teacher pointed out that both "hope this helps" and "hope this help" are grammatically incorrect after she saw a classmate of mine writing the three words in his assignment, but my teacher just didn't explain it in detail why the expressions are wrong.

So, could you tell me why both "hope this helps" and "hope this help" are grammatically incorrect please?

I had asked this question in school. Some of teachers told me that "hope this helps" was perfectly acceptable and they had been using it for many years.
But some told me that "the correct expression should be: Hope this help or I hope this help"

Please help me! Which is correct?

  1. hope this helps
  2. hope this help
  3. I hope this will help. (my suggestion)
1
21

So my original answer was incorrect. "Hope this helps!" is a declarative, not an imperative. Instead of deleting my answer, I think it might be helpful to explain why I should have known it wasn't an imperative, and pull out the bits from the original that were correct.

Imperative clauses are usually in the second person, like:
"Hope for the best!" (You should hope for the best.)

A declarative clause is just a statement, like:
"I am editing my answer." or,
"Hope this helps!"

The second person and first person form of hope are the same, so I got a little confused because I didn't think about it carefully. I should have been able to tell that the clause wasn't an imperative because an imperative is usually a command directed at another person, and "Hope this helps!" is stating something in the first person.

I would expand "Hope this helps!" this way:

I hope this (answer) helps you.

You would say "This answer helps me." and not "This answer help me." because the subject of "help" is third person singular. So, "Hope this helps (you)!" is OK, but "Hope this help (you)!" has a verb agreement problem.

In your suggested sentence, which is grammatical, you changed the wish from the present (helps) to the future (will help). This is OK, but it's not exactly what the original author expressed.

5
  • 1
    Well, "Hope this helps" COULD be interpreted as an imperative, meaning that the person who is addressed should or must hope that it will help. But that's not what people mean when they say it. They mean "I hope this helps", and are just leaving off the word "I" for brevity. It is not an imperative sentence but a declarative sentence with the subject left out.
    – Jay
    Feb 18 '15 at 14:36
  • 1
    @Jay Thanks! I always interpreted as a form of well-wishing but I think what you're saying makes more sense.
    – ColleenV
    Feb 18 '15 at 14:42
  • 2
    @kitty As Jay pointed out my original answer wasn't correct, so I've edited it to explain why I should have known "Hope this helps!" wasn't an imperative.
    – ColleenV
    Feb 18 '15 at 16:50
  • @ColleenV, I think your original answer is perfectly OK because I don't know much about first/second/third person arguments. This part of your original answer is also very good: "you changed the wish from the present (helps) to the future (will help). This is OK, but it's not exactly what the original author expressed."
    – kitty
    Feb 18 '15 at 19:00
  • 4
    this is called "dropped subject" and is extremely common in english, especially speech.
    – user428517
    Feb 18 '15 at 22:54
16

1: hope this helps - Informal but commonly used as the subject (I) is implied. Technically, it is not a complete sentence as it does not have a subject.

2: hope this help - Informal and wrong as there is no subject-verb agreement between "this" and "help"

3: I hope this will help. (my suggestion) - This is perfectly acceptable.

2
  • Agreed. Pronouns are often dropped, e.g. "look who's here!" or "looking forward to hearing from you". I feel that "hope this helps" is like "looking forward to": a way to sign off.
    – PatrickT
    Sep 28 at 8:23
  • 1
    "Look who's here!" is different as it is an imperative and is grammatically correct. "Looking forward to hearing from you" is a good analogy though
    – Kevin
    Sep 28 at 14:06
8

I will answer this question from a native speaker's perspective.

3 is very commonly used and is grammatically correct as it has an explicit subject and as Kevin mentions "help" is used as an intransitive verb which does not require a direct object.

1 is also acceptable in common use. However, a pedantic perspective would identify that 1 is not a complete sentence because it does not have an explicit subject.

(2) "hope this help" is grammatically incorrect because it has improper subject-verb agreement.

Hope this helps! ;)

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  • 2
    Number 3 is a complete sentence. Help is both a transitive and an intransitive verb. As such, it does not require an object.
    – Kevin
    Feb 18 '15 at 14:18
  • 2
    Also, the predicate is not implied. "hope this helps" is the predicate.
    – Kevin
    Feb 18 '15 at 14:22
2

Hope this helps vs hope this help!

It's more natural and common to say "hope this helps!" Alternatively, it's correct to say "(I) hope this will help".

-2

One of the finest points of english grammar as my English professor said. Subjunctive mood.

The correct answer is I hope this help. Whether the subject is singular or plural, you use the base form of the verb. Why base form for singular as well? The reason is because it’s not a declarative. The action word is not happening yet. Subjunctive mood expresses a hope, a wish or a request.

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