Difference between Help and Favour

Key Difference: Some word masters also claim that help is often used when it is needed, while favours are something that are not needed but instead just makes your life more convenient. People claim that help and favour may mean the same thing – to provide with assistance. However, both terms have other definitions that often separate the words from each other.

Help and favour (or favor) are words that one has heard their entire life. Either you have asked someone for help or a favour or someone else has asked you for one. Either way, the words have been around since the time one starts understanding. Although, you’ve heard both words, ever wonder what is the difference between the two words?

Helping is considered as one of the most important traits that is often taught to the young by their parents. Helping someone in need or helping someone whenever you can is often said to one of the greatest ways to give to the society and its members. For many help and favour may mean the same thing – to provide with assistance. However, there are a lot of differences between the two terms.

Helping is often considered as something that can be given or even asked. So a person can often be proactive and help first or ask someone for help. Some word masters also claim that help is often used when it is needed, while favours are something that are not needed but instead just makes your life more convenient. Favours is defined in a similar manner to help – providing a kind or helpful act that you do for someone.

Many linguists suggest that the terms help and favour are often interchangeable when it comes to a question such as “Can you help me?” or “Can you do me a favour?” While help can also be used in sentences such as “Here let me help you” or “Would you like some help with that?”, the words favour will not fit into this scenario as the connotations would change. Also, it makes the person offering ‘a favour’ sound cocky. Hence, it can be said that favours are more often than not asked rather than offered.

This is where the similarity in terms of definition ends. Both the words are also used in various other contexts that cannot be interchangeable. The other connotations of the word can best be understood with their dictionary definitions.

Merriam-Webster defines ‘help’ as:

  • to give assistance or support to <help a child with homework>
  • to make more pleasant or bearable :  improve, relieve <bright curtains will help the room> <took an aspirin to help her headache>
  • archaic :  rescue, save
  • to be of use to :  benefit
  • to further the advancement of :  promote
  • to change for the better
  • to refrain from :  avoid <we couldn't help laughing>
  • to keep from occurring :  prevent <they couldn't help the accident>
  • to restrain (oneself) from doing something <knew they shouldn't go but couldn't help themselves>
  • to serve with food or drink especially at a meal <told the guests to help themselves>
  • to appropriate something for (oneself) <helped himself to the car keys>

Merriam Webster defines ‘favour’ as:

  • friendly regard shown toward another especially by a superior (2) :  approving consideration or attention :  approbation
  • appearance: face (2) : a facial feature
  • gracious kindness; also : an act of such kindness <did you a favor>
  • a token of love (as a ribbon) usually worn conspicuously
  • a small gift or decorative item given out at a party
  • a special privilege or right granted or conceded
  • sexual privileges —usually used in plural
  • behalf, interest
  • in accord or sympathy with
  • to the benefit of :  in support of <a verdict in favor of the accused>
  • in order to choose :  out of preference for <turned down the scholarship in favor of a pro career>
  • in one's favor / in one's good graces / to one's advantage

As one can see, both ‘help’ and ‘favor’ have other contexts that they are used in. In these contexts, the words cannot be interchangeable. In some ways both the words are same, while in other ways they are completely different from each other.

Image Courtesy: unconditionalresponsibility.com, prezleek.deviantart.com

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Comments

I believe the above is not accurate. Help is when you provide or be of assistance to someone, without accepting a reward in return. E.g...A friend taking you to do grocery shopping without asking for fuel. Favor is when you help or assist someone for a reward of some kind. E.g...A friend taking you shopping and asking for fuel money in return.

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