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What is the difference between verhelfen, helfen and behelfen? How are they used in a sentence?

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  • 4
    Did you consult a dictionary? What did they say? Which question is still open? Oct 8 '13 at 22:22
  • 3
    Ok this question may be very short but I don't see an issue with it as all words look very similar and at least 2 of them can be translated to "to help" in English. What exactly should OP write other than this? The phrasing is fine and someone having the same question is likely to find this through Google. So I don't see a need for downvotes
    – Emanuel
    Oct 9 '13 at 10:15
  • @Emanuel: Wenn ich dict.leo.org aufrufe bekomme ich für alle 3 Wörter unterschiedliche Ergebnislisten. "Behelfen" führt dabei gar nicht zu "to help", wie Du selbst beobachtet hast. Wer hier nach einem Rezept für Schwarzsauer fragt wird auch erleben, dass andere mit der gleichen Frage die Antworten finden werden - dieser Hinweis ist also kaum ein Argument. Was exact gefragt werden soll wird davon abhängen, ob der Frager eigene Rechercheleistung erbringt und danach noch offene Fragen hat - ich kann da nicht in die Zukunft schauen. Was ist der Unterschied zw. fragen, anfragen und befragen? May 18 at 14:34
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The previous answer already offers a few examples. As for your question about the differences:

helfen is the general term for helping in the sense of doing something or supporting someone.

verhelfen means to take care, that someone achives or receives something he or she wants (as in helping somebody to escape/to be promoted “zur Flucht / Beförderung verhelfen”). It can also be used for the third person (like helping to enforce something “zur Durchsetzung verhelfen”). It implies active effort to a means.

For an example, you can help someone experiencing pain in doing a simple action, such as getting up (aufstehen helfen), or provide relief (zur Linderung verhelfen). Helping him or her to get to the doctor can be both, depending on what you want to stress (“zum Doktor verhelfen” or “helfen, zum Doktor zu kommen”).

behelfen indicates a workaround, usually in the sense of settling for less. If you do not have or get what you need, you have to “help yourself out with what you got” … that’s what the help means in behelfen. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the outcome is not as good, it can also just be other than the desired solution (or way, i.e. using a trick, pressure, less quality or more resources).

It can also be used as a noun. For example a Rechtsbehelf is the text on official letters from the city or tax services that gives you basic advice about your rights, in the expected absence of a lawyer.

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Ich kann Dir bei der Antwort helfen.

Ich kann Dir zu ein paar Beispielen verhelfen.

Bis dahin musst Du Dich mit Wöterbüchern oder Googlesuchen behelfen.

Womöglich wollen noch andere aushelfen.

Wenn Du einen Beispielengpaß erleidest können wir dem abhelfen.

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  • +1 für den Realismus.
    – c.p.
    Oct 9 '13 at 7:34

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