Lets vs. Let’s: When to Use Lets or Let’s (with Useful Examples)

Last Updated on December 7, 2023

An apostrophe can make a huge difference and change the meaning of the word completely. This is why, when you see two words that only differ by an apostrophe, you need to be extra careful. Of course, nobody will notice anything wrong if you speak but in writing, the risks of using the wrong word are very high. An example of such words is lets and let’s. In order to never get these words confused again, read on.

Lets vs. Let’s: Understanding the Basics 

Lets vs. Let'sPin

Lets vs. Let’s: Key Takeaways

LETS is the third person singular form of the verb “let” in the present tense, while LET’S is a contraction of “let us”. Even though both these words come from the same verb that means to “to allow”, their meanings and uses in a sentence are very different.

Examples:

  • She lets her son select his own Christmas present.
  • Let’s go out for a drink.

Lets vs. Let’s: Meanings 

When discussing “lets” and “let’s,” it’s essential to grasp their distinct roles in the English language. We’ll look at their proper use and common confusions.

Meaning of Lets

Lets is the third-person singular present tense form of the verb “to let,” which signifies to permit or allow someone to do something. For instance:

  • She lets her cat outside every morning.

Meaning of Let’s

Let’s is a contraction combining “let” and “us,” functioning as a suggestion or proposal to take some action. Below is an example:

  • Let’s go out for dinner tonight.

When Do You Use Lets or Let’s?

When you’re speaking about someone giving someone else permission to do something, you need the version without an apostrophe. For instance, you can say, “Kevin’s mother lets him go out if he finishes all of his homework by the time she gets home”.

On the other hand, when you’re making a suggestion, you need the version with an apostrophe. For example, if you want to go to watch a new movie with your friends, you can tell them, Let’s go to the cinema”.

How do you know that you’re using the right word? If you can use the full version of the contraction, i.e. let us, then you need to use let’s. This will also make your writing look more formal. If you’ve made dinner for your whole family, you can invite them to the table by saying, “Let’s eat” or “Let us eat”. Because both of these phrases make perfect sense, you need an apostrophe.

If you can replace the word in question with a synonym, such as allows or gives permission, you need lets without an apostrophe. For example, instead of saying, “This ticket lets you visit all the city’s museums”, you can say, “This ticket allows you to visit all the city’s museums”. This is why an apostrophe isn’t needed: lets is correct.

Tricks to Understanding Usage

To remember the difference, here’s a quick trick:

  • If you can replace the word with “let us” and it still makes sense, you should use let’s with an apostrophe.
  • If you can’t, then it’s likely that lets without an apostrophe is the correct choice.

Lets vs. Let’s Examples in Sentences 

Examples of “Let’s” in Sentences

  • Let’s go out for dinner tonight.
  • Let’s make sure we finish the project by the deadline.
  • Let’s take a break and get some fresh air.
  • Let’s try to solve this puzzle together.
  • Let’s not jump to conclusions before we have all the facts.

Examples of “Lets” in Sentences

  • He lets his kids play in the park every evening.
  • The new policy lets employees work from home twice a week.
  • She lets the dough rise for an hour before baking.
  • The landlord lets out the apartment to tourists during the summer.
  • The software lets you edit photos with ease.

Examples of Sentences that Use Both “Lets” and “Let’s”

  • He lets his children decide what games to play, saying, “Let’s make it a fun day for everyone.”
  • The new system lets us track our expenses more efficiently, so let’s start using it right away.
  • She lets the cat out in the morning and then says, “Let’s hope he comes back by dinner time.”
  • The teacher lets students choose their project topics, often suggesting, “Let’s explore your interests.”
  • The coach lets the team vote on their next activity, usually encouraging them with, “Let’s pick something we’ll all enjoy.”

Interactive Activities

Determine the correct usage of “lets” and “let’s” with this short quiz.

  1. Which of the following is correct?
    • Lets go to the park and play.
    • Let’s go to the park and play.
  2. Which of the following is correct?
    • The new policy lets them work from home.
    • The new policy let’s them work from home.
  3. Which of the following is correct?
    • She lets her cat outside every morning.
    • She let’s her cat outside every morning.
  4. Which of the following is correct?
    • Let’s see if we can solve this puzzle.
    • Lets see if we can solve this puzzle.
  5. Which of the following is correct?
    • He lets the dog sleep on the bed at night.
    • He let’s the dog sleep on the bed at night.

Answers:

  1. Let’s go to the park and play. (“Let’s” is a contraction of “let us,” used to make a suggestion.)
  2. The new policy lets them work from home. (“Lets” is the third-person singular present tense form of “let,” meaning it allows.)
  3. She lets her cat outside every morning. (“Lets” is the third-person singular present tense form of “let,” meaning she allows.)
  4. Let’s see if we can solve this puzzle. (“Let’s” is a contraction of “let us,” used to make a suggestion.)
  5. He lets the dog sleep on the bed at night. (“Lets” is the third-person singular present tense form of “let,” meaning he allows.)

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between ‘lets’ and ‘let’s’?

  • ‘lets’: Third-person singular present tense of the verb ‘let’, meaning to allow.
  • ‘let’s’: Contraction of ‘let us’, used to make a suggestion or proposal.

How do we use ‘lets’ in a sentence? 

Example: She lets us borrow her car on weekends.

When do we use ‘let’s’? 

Example: Let’s go out for ice cream!

Is it correct to use an apostrophe in ‘lets’?

 No, the apostrophe is only used in ‘let’s’ as a contraction for ‘let us’.

Can ‘let’s’ be used to refer to permission?

 No, ‘let’s’ is for suggestions. For permission, we use ‘lets’ without an apostrophe.

Are there exceptions where ‘lets’ can take an apostrophe?

 No, ‘lets’ is never written with an apostrophe.

Do ‘lets’ and ‘let’s’ sound the same? 

Yes, they are homophones, meaning they sound identical but have different meanings and spellings.

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