Freeform Writing Exercise A2
Technically this "le" is a direct object, because the verb ayudar is transitive, but this "le" being referring to a singular masculine is accepted (instead of the direct object pronoun lo) - As Tony and David said this is "leísmo" (which is using le as direct object pronoun instead of lo) and is common in some parts of Spain to use it. This is accepted by the R.A.E as long as it is singular masculine.
Here is a short article from Kwiziq talking about leísmo. Have a look.
Hey Jane, I'm going to take a guess here as to why this happens which I hope is useful for you. I see it as "the help" is the direct object (even though it’s not) being given to "him" which is the indirect object. Just as if I gave a letter (direct object) to you (indirect object). The expression ¿En qué puedo ayudarle? when greeted by a shopkeeper greets helps me remember that one can use "le". This use of Le instead of Lo is called “leismo.”
It is actually quite common to use "le" as a direct object rather than "lo", particularly in Spain; [less common in America?].
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