Using "assist" as a noun?


In the following sentence the word “assist” seems to be used as a noun. As far as I know, “assist” is just a verb, isn’t it? So what do you make of the following sentence:

Implementing a communications system, based on the principles of the communications continuum, can be an enormous assist.

In other words, how common is it use “assist” as a noun?

Thanks for your assistance,

TOEIC listening, photographs: An overground pipe[YSaerTTEW443543]

I am not sure why they don’t use the word benefit instead of assist in that sentence. I dont think assist is used often as a noun.

It is used as a noun sometimes:

  • Thanks for the assist. (Thanks for the help… thanks for helping me… etc.)

And it’s used especially in sports like basketball and hockey:

  • Jordan made the shot. Pippen gets the assist.

  • What a great assist that was! He threaded the puck between three opponents and right onto the stick of Krapchinski. That pass had eyes!

Hi Torsten

The word assist is officially recognized a noun as well as a verb. You only need to check an English dictionary to verify this (Oxford, Webster’s, American Heritage, just to name a few).

A very common way of using assist as a noun is just as Prezbucky described above. The usage in your sentence does not sound unusual to me. That would also be a standard way to use assist.

There is a grammatical difference between the nouns assist and assistance:

  • assist is countable
  • assistance is uncountable

If the Oxford Dictionary is to be believed, however, the usage of assist as a noun occurs primarily in American English. Perhaps you should ask Alan about the usage of assist as a noun in Britain.

I agree with PB and Yankee, and would only comment that in your given sentence, alongside such words as implement and continuum, assist as a noun sounds considerably ‘down-register’ and would be more appropriate in the form of enormous assistance.

PS: Gee, I wonder if the writer meant asset?-- that word seems to work there too.

I find the word assist as a noun so “unbelivibly” incorrect !!! (British!)
The Americans are changing the English language into every form they wish, but hey, this has also been going on in they UK for many years. Its called dialect I suppose.
In America, they have many very strange uses of English, for instance … in a recent TOEFL test “did you finish the report yet”
So we must accept the American dialect like every other.

In the sentence, I would have said “can be OF enormous ASSISTANCE” … But it could quite be a typo and mean “asset” as suggested.

Hi Hamburg,

Setting aside the helpful suggestion that ‘asset’ could have been meant, I am intrigued by your exclamation that the verb ‘assist’ doubling as a noun is, to quote:

and then you tag on ‘British’. Unabashed you proceed to ‘blame’ the Americans! Isn’t this the beauty of English that you can adapt it, shake it, muddle it up and thereby get a fresh look at the language?

What is your starting point? Is English your first language? Come, come - Shakespeare couldn’t stop himself from changing verbs into nouns and vice versa. And didn’t he do well! The wonderful mixture of different Englishes is a source for joy and not for correctitude, surely?



Yes your correct Alan.

English is beautiful and one must always remember that no matter what I or other people say, just around the corner another British person will be speaking something different.

I don’t blame the Americans … I wouldn’t dare!

I agree that other words would work well there and I agree up to a point that the usage of “assist” here would be “down-register” (in AmE).

I do think that using assist as a noun is very closely tied to sports, but it seems to me that quite a few sports expressions are used in the business world – and while such usages wouldn’t be considered extremely formal, many also would not be considered particularly informal.

This thread also reminds me of a company dictionary that I managed to get a copy of years ago. A British IBMer had compiled an “IBMese-English” dictionary. This company dictionary accurately reflected the way IBMers tended to speak and write. It was full of verbs used as nouns, nouns used as verbs, etc. The native English speakers (no matter whether British or American) in the company really spoke and wrote the way this dictionary described. Some of the usages were informal, but many otherwise “non-standard” usages were quite standard for IBMers.

By the way, Torsten, did you know that the word obsolete is officially considered a verb (transitive) in American English? You’ll hear this usage in business English fairly often. I wonder whether our British cousins are still stuck using obsolete only as an adjective. :wink:


They are indeed a thorn in the side of any grammarian-- for an educated bunch, they can sure play havoc with the language.

Hi Amy,

So what would be the difference between “make sth. obsolete” and “obsolete sth.” in American English? Also, would you say that “obsolete” is more often used as a verb or as a noun in American English?


TOEIC listening, photographs: Almost at the top[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hi Torsten

I’m sure obsolete is generally used far more often as an adjective, but tech companies in particular seem quite fond of using it as a verb – possibly because things tend to become yesterday’s news so darn quickly in the world of high tech:

[i]- We obsoleted that product last month.

  • The government has established a new program to retrain workers who have been obsoleted.[/i]

There usually isn’t much difference between to obsolete and to make obsolete other than it’s faster to say the former. However, when the past participle obsoleted is used as an adjective, it retains the active sense that something caused something else to become obsolete.

My theory is that it is incorrect and that it is used mainly by pundits trying to sound impressive and knowledgeable; they attempt to appear clever by using English in unexpected ways to create the impression that they know a lot about whatever they are talking about.
I expect it will just disappear because it sounds like jargon and would tend to stick out in normal speech.