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Let’s vs. Lets—What’s the Difference?

Updated on
December 16, 2020
Grammar
  • Let’s is a contraction of let us.
  • Lets is the third-person singular present tense form of the verb “let.”

Homophones are a common cause of grammar mistakes. Let’s and lets are a pair of commonly confused homophones, and they share the same root word.

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The difference between let’s and lets

Let’s and lets are based on the same verb, let, which means to allow or give permission.

Let’s is a contraction of “let us.” You use it to make suggestions about what you and someone else should do. Let’s go to the movies. Let’s invite Mom.

Lets is the third-person singular present tense form of verb let, which means to allow or give permission. If Mom lets us go to the movies without her, I’ll be surprised.

Let’s vs. Lets: which is correct?

If you have friends over for dinner and it’s time to sit at the table, you can say:

The food is ready. Let’s eat!

You can also use let’s as an indirect or polite way of telling other people what to do:

It’s cold outside! Let’s all remember to bring our jackets.

If you want to sound more formal, you can avoid the contraction and use the whole phrase:

Let us turn to page four of the report.

Now, if you want to use lets correctly, save it for when you want to talk about something that happens because someone or something allows it to happen:

Old McDonald lets the animals on his farm move freely.

The arrangement of tables in the restaurant lets you have very little privacy.

Examples

No, if we really want to do something about the worst effects of our electoral process, let’s start by simply having less of it.
The Telegraph

As we approach Election Day, let’s not fall victim to divisive rhetoric or discouragement at the fallout of a toxic election cycle.
El Paso Times

In essence, signing up lets Google’s ads know who you are no matter where you go across different devices.
Engadget

Or if you left the office late and do not feel like cooking, UberEats is connected to the app that lets you order take out.
The Daily Mail

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