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We say "I'm happy I helped" to refer to the past.
What about "I'm happy to help"?
Does it mean you you want to show your willingness to do something (something you haven't done yet)?
Or do we have to use helping verbs like 'will' and 'would' to make that meaning? As in "I'll be happy to help." or "I'd be happy to help."
Can we use "I'm glad to help" to refer to the past, that is, you helped you you are happy you did?
And my other question is whether the case is the same with glad ?

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In your expression

I'm happy I helped

gets used when talking to a third person

I'm happy I helped David get into college.
I'm happy I helped them find a new home.

The usual expression

( I'm ) happy to help

can be used for both the past and the future depending on context

P1: Thanks for your help.
P2: Not a problem, always happy to help. (past)
P2: Glad I could help. (past)
P2: I'm happy I could be of help. (past)

P1: Would you be able to help me tomorrow?
P2: Happy to help, just let me know when. (future)
P2: I'd be happy to help. (future)
P2: Yes, I will help you. (future)

In both cases of past and present you are saying that helping is not a problem.

There are many ways to express this and from my experience, glad can also be used in the present and past. Will is not used in informal situations (since it is implied) but does get used in more formal situations.

I hope I will be able to help you when necessary.

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I'm happy to help.

although worded using the present conjugation of "to be", is referring to something you haven't done yet because you have not yet helped: it's the same thing as saying

I will be happy to help you in the immediate future.

Note that this use is likely a casualty of dialect as it's technically ungrammatical and should really be something along the lines of

"I would be happy to help" or "I will gladly help you"

This is supported by the fact that I've also in the past heard "I'm happy to help." used right after someone has been thanked for help they've already given, even though grammatically what the person should have said was "I was happy to help."

There is an alternate explanation in that the person saying "I'm happy to help" may just be communicating that at present they are happy to offer their help to you, rather than focusing on the offer of help itself.

  • So you can never use "I'm happy to help." instead of "I'm happy I helped.", and when you say "I'm happy to help." it kind of means "I'm willing to help you." Right? – Englishfreak Mar 14 '16 at 15:52
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    It may be better to refer to Peter's answer on this one, as it explains how "I'm happy to help" can also be used for helping in the past, and is a bit more detailed than mine. – John Clifford Mar 14 '16 at 15:57

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