‘Lets' vs 'Let's': What's the Difference Between the Two?

By Shanea Patterson, updated on December 16, 2022

Should you spell the word ‘lets’ or ‘let’s’? Wondering what the difference is between the two words? We’ll cover that in detail below, plus you’ll learn the meaning of each word and the correct usage.

Don’t feel like skimming? Here’s the short answer:

  • Lets is from the root word ‘let,’ and it means to allow or permit.
  • Let’s is a contraction of ‘let us’ and is used to make a suggestion about what you want someone else to do with you.

‘Let’s’ vs. ‘Lets’ – What’s the Difference? 

As you just learned, the difference between the two words is their usage.

‘Lets’ means to allow or permit, while ‘let’s’ is a contraction that means ‘let us.’ The latter is used to get someone to do something.

For example:

  • Let’s go to the movies tonight.

We’ll see some more usage examples below in another section.

‘Lets’ vs. ‘Let’s’ – Simple Tips to Remember the Difference 

Remembering the difference between the words is easy for some people. Just remember that the version with the apostrophe is a contraction that means ‘let us.’

Think about that when writing so you can ensure you use the correct version of the word.

Definition and Meaning of 'Lets'

Both ‘lets’ and ‘let’s’ come from the word ‘let.’ The definition is: “to cause to make,” “to give an opportunity to or fail to prevent,” “used in the imperative to introduce a request or proposal,” “used in the imperative to introduce a request or proposal,” and “used as an auxiliary to express a warning.”

It also means: “to free from or as if from confinement,” “to permit to enter, pass, or leave,” “to offer or grant for rent or lease (chiefly British),” “to assign especially after bids,” and “to make an adjustment to.”

As a transitive verb, it means: “to become awarded to a contractor.”

The noun is defined as: “something that impedes: obstruction” or “a shot or point in racket games that do not count and must be replayed.”

The verb form of the word can be defined as: “hinder, prevent.”

As a noun suffix, it means “small one” or “article worn on.”

Phrases Containing ‘Let’

There are a handful of phrases containing ‘let’ that you might come across while learning the language. They include:

  • Let alone (to leave undisturbed)
  • Let fly (hurl an object or give unrestrained expression to an emotion or utterance)
  • Let go (to relax or release one’s hold; to abandon self-restraint: let fly; to fail to take care of neglect)
  • Let it all hang out (to reveal one’s true feelings or act without dissimulation)
  • Let one have it (to subject to vigorous assault)
  • Let one’s hair down (to act without pretense or self-restraint)
  • Let rip (utter or release without restraint or to do or utter something without restraint)
  • Let the cat out of the bag (to give away a secret)

How to Use ‘Lets’ in a Sentence

Now that we know what the word means let’s see how to use it in a sentence correctly.

Here are a few examples:

  • My sister rarely lets my niece go outside and play.
  • That lady always lets her dog poop in my yard and doesn’t bother to pick it up.
  • My dad always lets my brother eat too much.
  • She lets her daughter get away with almost anything. Imagine her in 10 years.

How to Use ‘Let’s’ in a Sentence

Now, let’s see how to use ‘let’s’ in a sentence correctly.

  • Let’s get a margarita after work today. We deserve it.
  • Let’s keep our opinions to ourselves if we have nothing nice to say.
  • Let’s go out on Valentine’s Day this year.
  • Let’s go over this one more time, so we get our story straight before we go in there.

Understanding Contractions

As we mentioned above, the word ‘let’s’ is a contraction of ‘let us.’

What is a contraction exactly?

A contraction is a shortened form of a group of words, and they’re used in both written and oral communication.

When you write a contraction, you replace the omitted letters with an apostrophe.

Final Thoughts on ‘Lets’ and ‘Let’s’

Now that you know the difference between ‘lets’ and ‘let’s,’ you should be able to use the above examples to write your own sentences. It can be tricky to remember which version of this word to use. Apostrophe or no apostrophe?

Got other words you need help with? We’ve got a whole library of content dedicated to explaining confusing words and phrases in English. Don’t be afraid to come back and browse at your leisure.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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