Let’s or Lets – How to Use Each Correctly

enhancedwriting/ August 16, 2017/ Uncategorized

let's versus lets

What’s the Difference Between Let’s and Lets?

Let’s and lets sound exactly the same, and their meanings are related. However, they follow different grammatical rules.

Let’s is a contraction of the phrase let us. People use let’s as a friendly and polite way to suggest doing something.

  • Let’s take a quick break.

Lets is the third person singular form of the verb let in the simple present tense. Let means to allow.

  • He lets his dogs go on the furniture.

Let’s look at some of the ways to use these words in English.

Using Let’s in a Sentence

When to use let’s: Let’s is a nice alternative to saying we should. It offers a suggestion as an option rather than an order.

For example,

  • Let’s do our homework now so we have time to go to the party later.
  • Let’s see what’s happening downtown.

Some common expressions with lunch include the following:

  • Let’s do lunch: we should get lunch together
    • We never get to spend time together anymore. Let’s do lunch sometime!
  • Let’s get out of here: we should leave this place now
    • I think I just saw a ghost! Let’s get out of here!
  • Let’s rock and roll: let’s go
    • Okay, it looks like everybody is ready. Let’s rock and roll!

Unlike most contractions, it isn’t common for let and us to be separated when used as a polite suggestion for an activity.

Using Lets in a Sentence

When to use lets: Lets is a form of the verb let that means to permit. The third person singular form adds the letter s in the present tense. It appears after the subjects he, she, and it.

For example:

  • The mom lets her children play video games all day and all night. It’s unhealthy.
  • The restaurant lets customers choose from a variety of fresh mushrooms.

There are many idioms and expressions with the verb let that can appear with the conjugation lets:

  • to let one’s hair down: to put one’s hair down, not held up with any ties
    • She lets her hair down after work.
  • to let something be known: to give information
    • He let it be known that he was interested in buying old comic books.
  • to let something slip: to accidentally give information
    • The friend always lets her secrets slip.

Remembering Let’s vs. Lets

Let’s comes from let, but we still use the two words differently. There are a few different methods you can use to remember how to use each.

Let’s is a contraction, and like all contractions, it uses an apostrophe to replace the omitted letter. Here, the apostrophe takes the place of the u. Knowing this can help you remember to only use let’s in instances where there are two people, us, and one person is making a suggestion for the pair.

Lets is the third person singular form, in the simple present tense. Like almost all other verbs in this conjugation, it adds an s to the base form of the verb after the subjects he, she, and it. Other examples are she runs every day, he cooks all the time, and it moves quickly. None of the other third person singular verbs use an apostrophe.

Outside Examples

  • Let’s send our vendors home with empty trucks and full wallets! –Chicago Tribune
  • That’s pretty implausible, but let’s take that at face value for a second. Maybe the Action Environmental driver was indeed so reckless that he didn’t know he’d killed someone. –New York Daily News
  • This season, the new DVQ 3.0 lets you simply order a full meal. It gauges each player’s value independently then assigns a draft position rating. –New York Post
  • While photos can be shared, Facebook appears to have taken steps to ensure the app could not spread widely. For example, people who post photos from Colorful Balloons on WeChat will see a link that lets other users download Facebook’s Chinese app. –New York Times

Quiz: Lets vs. Let’s

Instructions: Fill in the blank with either lets or let’s in the correct form.

  1. ______________ go to a movie tomorrow night.
  2. She always _____________ her dog misbehave.
  3. The door ______________ people in automatically.
  4. _______________ all try to calm down.
  5. This feature on my cell phone ________________ me find it whenever I misplace it.

See answers below.

Article Summary

Should I use let’s or lets? Despite the fact that these words sound the same, and have related meanings, they cannot be interchanged.

  • Let’s is a contraction of let us and is used to politely suggest an activity.
  • Lets is a form of let and means to permit or allow.

Using the context above can help to ensure that you always remember the difference between let’s and lets.


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