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The Russian word помощь is a noun that means ‘help.’ It is a third declension noun. One doesn't encounter the plural forms all that often, but they do theoretically exist.
The word is often used with нужна:
|Мне нужна помощь.||I need help.|
|Мне не нужна ваша помощь.||I don't need your help.|
|Борисy нужна будет твоя помощь.||Boris will need your help.|
|Тане нужна была помощь брата, чтобы заменить дверь.||Tanya needed her brother’s help to replace the door.|
When you do something without help, the preposition без is used; it requires the genitive case.
|Я бы не смог путешествовать по Сомалии без помощи переводчика.||I wouldn't have been able to travel through Somalia without the help of an interpreter.|
|— Помоги мне заменить лампочку.
— Ты сможешь это сделать без моей помощи.
|“Help me replace the light bulb.”
“You’ll be able to do that without my help.”
When you do something with the help of something, you can use either the preposition при + prepositional or the preposition с + instrumental.
|Я перевёл статью с помощью словаря.||I translated the article with the help of a dictionary.|
|Я нашёл тот адрес при помощи смартфона.||I found that address with the help of my smart phone.|
The phrases при помощи and с помощью are part of higher style Russian. So although one could theoretically say,
|Я заменил унитаз с помощью брата.
Я заменил унитаз при помощи брата.
|I replaced the toilet with my brother’s help.|
in common conversation one is more likely to say,
|Брат помог мне заменить унитаз.||My brother helped me replace the toilet.|
Don responds: Андрей, thanks so much for your thought. Here's the scoop. Although I agree with you that the phrase при помощи is used with an inanimate complement for best style in Russian, I found when writing the blog entry that in fact in conversational Russian people do use the phrase with people sometimes. At the moment I consider the use of «при помощи брата» to be one of those things that is an exceedingly minor error, so minor in fact as to now be part of the standard conversational language. If I were to make a comparison, I suppose it is about equivalent to saying “Did you eat lunch?” instead of “Have you eaten lunch?” The former nowadays is extremely common in American English, so common as to not sound wrong to most people in casual conversation, although some of us still try to maintain the distinction. (I believe the distinction may still have more force in Britain, though I am not sure.)
To my ear “I fixed the toilet with a plunger” and “I fixed the toilet with my brother” are both perfectly fine sentences, so I think I didn't quite follow your point on that one.
Peace, joy and light to you, Don.
1.) I noticed that you used the feminine form "нужна" in all of your examples. Does this mean that "нужен" must always agree in gender and number with the noun to which it is referring?
2.) I found a couple of handy phrases related to "помощь" in my dictionary:
-"машина скорой помощи" --> "ambulance" (literally "car of quick aid" which is kinda cool, I like the literal definition better! :)
-"первая помощь" --> "first aid"
Don responds: Richard, yes, indeed, it is the thing needed that determines the ending of нужен, not the person who needs it.
Don responds: What an excellent question. Although in terms of meaning they are basically the same, grammatically they are different. In «Мне надо помощь» the word помощь is in the accusative case, and there is some implied infinitive (although I'm not at the moment sure which verb, perhaps получить?). It is an impersonal sentence with надо as the predicative. In «Мне нужна помощь» we have a personal sentence with помощь as the nominative subject and the short form adjective agreeing with it. Interesting, eh?