Lets or Let's?

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Difference between "Lets" and "Let's"?

"Lets" and "let's" are easy to confuse because they sound identical (i.e., they are perfect homonyms). However, their meanings are very different.
  • Lets. "Lets" means allows or rents out. For example:
    • Sarah lets me feed her pony.
    • (Here, "lets" means allows. It is from "to let" meaning to allow.)
    • Sean lets three apartments in New York.
    • (Here, "lets" means rents out. It is from "to let" meaning to rent out.)
  • Lets. "Lets" also means nullified plays in sport or rented properties. (The singular form is "let.") For example:
    • The serve clipped the net again. There have been two lets in this game so far.
    • I have one let down town and two lets in the suburbs.
  • Let's. "Let's" (with an apostrophe) is a contraction of "let us," which is similar in meaning to "we should." For example:
    • Let's go!
    • Let's bring the washing in before dinner.
lets, let, or let's

More about "Lets" and "Lets"

The word "let" has several meanings. It can be a noun or a verb.

As a noun (e.g., a holiday let), it has the plural "lets" (e.g., three holiday lets). As a verb in the present tense, it conjugates as follows:
PersonPersonal PronounConjugation of "To Let"
First Person Singular I let
Second Person Singular you let
Third Person Singular he/she/it lets
First Person Plural we let
Second Person Plural you let
Third Person Plural they let
Below are the four common meanings for "let":

(1) A play usually in racket/racquet sports) that is nullified and has to be played again.
  • The ball touched the top of the net causing a let.
  • There have been three lets on this serve so far.
(2) A rented property (as a noun):
  • This is a holiday let.
  • There are a few lets on this estate.
(3) To rent a property (as a verb):
  • She is prepared to let this building for six months.
  • This building is to let.
  • She lets several houses in the area.
(4) To allow:
  • He let the dog lick his lollipop.
  • Paula lets him cook the dinner on Fridays.
  • The man who lets himself be bored is even more contemptible than the bore. (Novelist Samuel Butler)
  • There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in. (Writer Graham Greene)

More about "Let's"

The word "let's" is a contraction of "let us." "Let's [do something]" is close in meaning to "We should [do something]."

Example sentences with "let's":
  • Let's go fishing.
  • Let's have a party. Oh yes, let's.
  • Let's have a party if mum lets us.
  • I'm all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let's start with typewriters. (Author Solomon Short)
  • Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told: "I'm with you kid. Let's go." (Poet Maya Angelou)
spelling error with lets
A slogan on a T shirt highlighting the importance of commas.
Unfortunately, it should say "let's" not "lets." Ooops.

Let's Go or Lets Go?

The term is "let's go!" In other words, "let's go" has an apostrophe. "Let's go" is used to mean the following:

(1) to depart
  • Time's up. Let's go.
(2) to encourage
  • We can win this game. Let's go!
(3) to express impatience
  • I've had enough. Let's go.
(4) to accept a challenge
  • Okay, buster. You're annoying me now. Let's go.

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See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose? Commas with the vocative case List of easily confused words

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