Lets and let’s are two of the most commonly confused words in the English language. It is difficult to determine when the word needs an apostrophe and when it doesn’t.
Lets is a singular present tense of the verb let used in the third-person. Let’s is a contraction made up of the words let and us.
“Lets” without an apostrophe means allowing or permitting something to happen. You would use this word when you are talking about something that needs permission from someone else.
“Lets” is used in multiple different statements and phrases. One of the most popular phrases is saying “someone lets their hair down“. For example, “she always lets her hair down the second she leaves work“.
“Lets” is the third-person singular of the verb “to let”
The verb “to let” means to allow something to happen but it can also mean to rent.
Another use is when someone lets others know the information they have. For example, “she always lets it be known when she brings in cookies“.
My mom never lets me go over to my friend’s house, no matter how many times I ask.
Make sure your brother lets the dog out before he leaves for the day.
My cat never lets me sleep without her sleeping on my chest.
She never lets her kids stay up late because she knows they need their sleep.
Let’s with an apostrophe is a contraction of the words let and us. It is used in all different types of speech and writing as an alternative to saying “we should”. You will mostly notice that it is used with a suggestion like “let’s go to dinner” or “let’s think about this for a bit longer“.
Sometimes, you will see that people use “let’s” redundantly. For example, you might see someone write “
let’s you and me go do something”. If you think about it literally, this statement means let us you and me go do something. Removing the you and me from the sentence makes it proper and you aren’t repeating yourself.
Unlike other contractions, it isn’t very common to see “let’s” separated into two words. You will very rarely see someone use” let us” instead of “let’s”. It doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily, so it is often avoided.
Let’s go to lunch this weekend.
It’s so nice out, let’s go to the beach.
Let’s take a break before we get into the hard work.
What’s going on over there? Let’s go see.
Remembering the Difference
Lets and let’s are very tricky to use properly, but luckily there are a couple of ways to remember the difference and when to use each.
The easiest method to remember the difference is to think about let’s. Since this is a contraction, we know it is used as two words in one. The apostrophe is being placed where the U should be in us to combine the words. It isn’t common, but you can make sure you are using the right word by expanding the contraction to see if it works in the sentence.
For example, you can say “let us go to lunch this weekend”, and it still makes sense. You couldn’t, however, say “
make sure he let us the dog out before he leaves” because the sentence doesn’t make any sense.
“Lets” is just the verb let in third person singular form. This word is used to describe something happening. For example, you could say that he lets the dog out every day before he leaves. However, it wouldn’t be proper to say “
lets go get lunch this weekend” because the sentence is referring to two people.
You could say “I hope my mom lets us go to lunch this weekend” because you are waiting on the permission of your mother to let you go do something.