I read the last part of this answer and can't get what this sentence exactly expresses in the given context.


(Put them on your desk openly and write a mail that everyone can help himself.)

I would read and understand it as "mail to them that you aren't willing to help them as they can help them selves". But this would a) contradict to the answer's purpose and b) wouldn't even have any pertinence related to the treats.

I also can interpret that it probablly trys to state something like "Hey, if you want some treats, just move your self and get over here to grab it"

but I anyway can't get it how the given sentence could express that (or something in that way, as I still feel like not getting it right).

3 Answers 3


The phrase "help yourself" is something of an idiom meaning that there will not be waiters to bring you food, but you should get the food yourself. Or similarly in non-eating situations, that no one will deliver things to you or provide assistance in finding or selecting things, but that you should take care of yourself.

I suppose "please help yourself" sounds a lot more polite than "hey, I'm not going to serve you, if you want something, get it yourself".

By extension, it also means that a person is welcome to take what is available. Like, "Are these donuts just for the people attending the conference?" "Oh no, they're for anyone. Help yourself."


"to help themselves to something" means to go ahead and serve yourself with or take some of the something without asking.

He is referring you to write something to the others to go ahead and take some of the gummy bears to eat, without the need to ask you if they can eat some of the gummies.


You may be familiar with a helping:

an amount of food that is served to one person at a meal: He asked for a second helping.1

A helping is what you get when you are helped to something- usually food.

So we have the verb to help meaning:

  1. to serve food or drink to: Help her to salad.2

Now if someone doesn't serve you and you take the food yourself, you have helped yourself.

The invitation to help yourself is quite common in more informal settings such as bringing food to share to work. The invitation is made more polite by adding please:

I brought cookies. They're on my desk. Please help yourselves! :-)

1 Macmillan Dictionary, © Macmillan Publishers Limited 2009–2015
2 Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

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