Lets vs Let’s | Difference, Definitions & Examples

Commonly Confused Words updated on  March 29, 2024 3 min read

Lets and let’s are both derived from the verb “let,” which can be used to mean “allow or permit” or to introduce a request or suggestion. While “lets” is the third-person singular form of this verb (e.g., “I hope she lets you go”), “let’s” is a contraction that stands for “let us” (e.g., “Let’s go to the park”).

Many people get these words confused because they are homophones, meaning they have the same pronunciation but different meanings.

Examples: Lets in a sentence

Examples: Let’s in a sentence

My dad lets me play video games once I’m done with my chores.

Let’s hope that we can get out of class early.

She lets her younger sister help her garden because she knows it soothes her

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Suzie lets Daniel leave early on Thursdays so he can visit his grandmother.

I could be wrong, so let’s double-check the results before publishing them.

Lets

“Lets” is the third-person singular form of the verb “let,” which can mean “to give permission” or “to release” and can also be used to mean “to facilitate or enable an action.”  

“Lets” must always be preceded by a singular noun (e.g., “Dave lets”); a third-person singular pronoun (e.g., “she lets,” “he lets,” or “it lets”); or by the demonstrative pronouns “this” or “that” (e.g., “this lets me”).

Examples: Lets in a sentence
My teacher lets me help with grading papers.

Joanna lets her birds out of the cage every morning.

My new camera is so cool. It lets me take high-definition videos and pictures.

Note
“Lets” is also a verb that means “to rent out a property” (e.g., “My sister lets her flat out to her best friend”). However, please note that this usage is only common in British English.

Let’s

“Let’s” is a contraction that means “let us.” Here, the base word “let” is used to make a request or recommendation or to give instructions (e.g., “let’s make a left”).

Because contractions are considered informal, “let’s” is typically used in casual speech or writing. Conversely, “let us” is considered extremely formal and is typically only used in archaic or religious contexts (e.g., “Let us pray”). In professional or academic contexts, sentences are often rephrased to avoid “let’s” (e.g., “I recommend that we hire a new director”).

“Let’s” is typically followed by the base form of a verb (e.g., “let’s dance”).

Examples: Let’s in a sentence
Let’s see what David is up to because I haven’t seen him all day.
I know you’re upset, but let’s pause and take a breath.
Let’s weigh all our options before we make a decision.

You can ensure you’re using the right word by replacing “let’s” with “let us.” If the sentence makes sense, then “let’s” is indeed the correct choice. If it doesn’t make sense, use “lets.”

Examples: Using “let us” to check word choice
Let’s check out the new equipment.
Let us check out the new equipment.

She let’s her cats roam outside sometimes.
She let us her cats roam outside sometimes.
She lets her cats roam outside sometimes.

Do you want to know more about common mistakes, commonly confused words, or other language topics? Check out some of our other language articles full of examples and quizzes.


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Is it lets go or let’s go?

The correct phrase depends on the context of the sentence.

When rooting for a team, the correct phrase is “let’s go.” “Let’s” is a contraction of “let us.” Saying “let’s go, team” means you’re cheering them on as a fan or as part of the team. “Let’s go” can also be used to express impatience with someone (e.g., “Let’s go! We don’t have all day”) or, in a more literal sense, to suggest that you and at least one other person depart (e.g., “Let’s go home”).

“Lets go” only makes sense when you’re using “lets” as the third-person singular present tense form of the verb phrase “let go,” meaning “release” (e.g., “She always lets go of the rope too soon”).

What is a synonym for let go?

A few synonyms for “let go” include:

  • Free
  • Release
  • Unleash
  • Unloose

What does let them mean?

“Let” can be used as a verb that means “give permission to” or “allow.” Therefore, “let them” means “allow them” or “permit them” (e.g., “Let them try to guess”).

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Gina Rancano

Gina holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, as well as a certificate in professional and public writing from Florida International University. When she’s not writing, she spends her time reading.

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