The Farlex Grammar Book > English Spelling and Pronunciation > Common Mistakes and Commonly Confused Words > let’s vs. lets
let’s vs. lets
What is the difference between let’s and lets?
There are a few contractions that have become the standard form in modern English—that is, the uncontracted form is no longer used or sounds rather old fashioned in everyday speech and writing.
One of these is the contraction let’s, which is a contraction of the words let us. This contracted form is only used when expressing a suggestion, as in, “Let’s go to the beach.” It sounds awkward and overly formal to say “Let us go to the beach.”
However, because let’s is solely associated with this meaning, there are other instances in which let us would be the only correct choice. This occurs when let means “to allow or give permission” or “to cause or make.” For example:
- “I hope mom will let us go to the movies.” (correct)
- “I hope mom will let’s go to the movies.” (incorrect)
- “Please let us know the results.” (correct)
- “Please let’s know the results.” (incorrect)
Finally, we have to be careful not to confuse the contraction let’s with lets, which is the conjugation of the verb let for third-person singular subjects.
One thing to remember is that let’s is only used in imperative sentences, the sentence structure used to issue commands or, in this case, suggestions. Imperative sentences do not have a subject (the person or thing performing the action of a verb); instead, they simply use the bare infinitive of a verb on its own, as it is being used to command or instruct another person. Lets, on the other hand, can only be used in “normal” (non-imperative) sentences that do have subjects because it is dependent on the grammatical class of the subject used in the clause.
- “Let’s go get something to eat!” (correct)
- “Lets go get something to eat!” (incorrect)
- “This new technology lets people talk to each other from across the globe.” (correct)
- “This new technology let’s people talk to each other from across the globe.” (incorrect)
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