This past week I had three different students use the verbs "attend" and "assist" incorrectly, which helped me realize that this is something that I should explain!
The verb "assist" is a synonym for "help" and the noun form is "assistance." When you use "assist", the object is a person, and it's a transitive verb, so there is no preposition included:
How can I assist you?
The hotel staff assisted me with my problem.
We were waiting at the bank for over 10 minutes before someone finally assisted us.
The verb "attend" means that you go to an event. The object of "attend" is an event, such as a party, a wedding, a meeting, or a class. The noun form is "attendance".
The verb "attend" is also a transitive verb, which means there is no preposition with it, so you should not use "to" with it (use "to" with "go" but don't use "to" with "attend"):
I cannot attend class tomorrow.
Over 50 people attended the meeting.
Thank you for attending our wedding last weekend.
The confusing part is that the verb "attend" can also mean "assist" (help) but when you use "attend" this way, we use the preposition "to". Basically, if you want to use a person as the object for "attend", then use "to":
Nobody has attended to the customer yet.
I will be able to attend to you in just one minute.
I was walking around the store for about 20 minutes but nobody attended to me.
It's important to remember that when you use "attend" to mean "serve/assist/help", you use the preposition "to" but when you use "attend" to mean "go to an event", there is no preposition included:
I want to attend the meeting.
Nobody attended to me.
Using "attend to someone" is less common than "assist someone". If you want to use these words correctly, my recommendation is to use "assist" for helping people and "attend" to describe events:
A service representative will assist you in a moment.
We attended the conference last year.
If you found this lesson useful, click here to get information about my book "What's the Difference Between....?" to learn 100 other comparisons like this one, including "by vs. until", "to vs. for", "either vs. neither", and "still vs. already vs. yet".
Fill in the blanks below with "attend" for events and "assist" for people:
I want to ___________ the car exhibition next month.
He hasn't ___________ class for a few days.
My teacher ___________ me with my homework and answered my questions.
My wife and I are planning to ____________ our son's school concert.
My neighbor __________ me whenever I have to carry something heavy.
If you press the button at your table, one of our staff will come to __________ you.
If you have any questions, I would be happy to ___________ you.
She's our best player but sometimes she doesn't ____________ practices.
I used to __________ church every Sunday but I don't anymore.
I want to thank all of the nurses that ___________ my husband when he was in the hospital.
Choose "attend" for events and "assist" for places below: