All HELP has broken loose.
HELP! Spare me from redundant use of the word.
It is ubiquitous in combination with another verb, when either that verb or help could stand on its own two feet without any – well, help.
Consider this sentence in an alternative-health newsletter: “There are tons of studies out there that claim eating a big, well balanced breakfast helps promote weight loss.” What’s the difference between “helps” and “promote” here? There is none. “A big, well balanced breakfast helps weight loss” means the same as helps promote weight loss. So does “A big, well balanced breakfast promotes weight loss.” In other words, one word suffices. Help needs no help, and the verb it’s paired with doesn’t need any help, either.
Help should be demoted
In fact, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary offers this meaning: “to further the advancement of: PROMOTE.”
Don’t push that button!
Here’s another example, part of a long-winded advertisement: “A new, drug-free cognitive formula may help improve mind, mood, and memory in as little as 30 days.” Whoever wrote that ad probably should partake of the product he or she was promoting to cognitively realize that improve doesn’t need the help of help. “A new, drug-free cognitive formula may improve mind, mood, and memory in as little as 30 days” suffices quite well. So does “A new, drug-free cognitive formula may help mind, mood, and memory in as little as 30 days.”
Help doesn’t improve.
Merriam-Webster’s also says, under Help: “syn (synonym) see IMPROVE.”
Writers should stop treating help as though it’s helpless. It’s quite self-sufficient, thank you.