Lets vs Let’s
Lets vs Let’s—Introduction
A homophone is a word which sounds the same as one or more others, but is spelt differently.
~ night and knight
~ reek and wreak
~ brake and break
A homograph is a word spelt the same way as one or more others, but differing in meaning.
~ lean (as in ‘tall and lean’ and ‘lean against a wall’)
~ train (as in ‘the train to Lagos’ and ‘successful athletes need to train hard’)
~ bat (as in ‘table-tennis bat’ and ‘a bat is a flying mammal’)
~ bow (as in the ‘bow down to the king’ and ‘bow and arrow’)
~ minute (as in ‘one minute to two’ and ‘only use a minute amount’)
Now, combine a homophone with a homograph and we get a homonym: a word which sounds the same as one or more others, AND is spelt the same way too!
Notice that bow and minute are NOT homonyms. Bow in ‘bow down to the king’ rhymes with ‘ow’ and bow in ‘bow and arrow’ rhymes with ‘toe’. Also, minute (time) is pronounced ‘min-it’ and minute (tiny) is pronounced ‘mai–nyut’.
~ Homophones: they sound the same
~ Homographs: they look the same
~ Homonyms 1: they sound AND look the same
More examples of homonyms are:
~ palm (the palm of your hand; a palm tree)
~ letter (a symbol in an alphabet; a written message to someone)
~ ruler (for measuring lengths; a king or queen)
In this article, we will look at a homonym (Lets) and its homophone (Let’s).
Let—has two meanings
The root of the homonym ‘Let’ has two meanings:
~ to allow or permit
~ to allow others to rent or hire a property
Students often misuse the word ‘rent’.
The person who owns the property (the landlord) must let it.
The person who does not own the property (the tenant) must rent it.
It is wrong to say, “The landlord rented out his house to me.” The landlord does not rent his own house! That would be silly. Besides, who would he pay?
“Mr Dami rented his apartment to me.” ✖️
“Mr Dami let his apartment to me.” ✔️
“I let Mr Dami’s apartment.” ✖️
“I rent Mr Dami’s apartment.” ✔️
In Britain, we might say, “lease”, rather than “let”:
~ “Mr Dami leased his apartment to me.”
~ “I rent my office from a company based in London. The company owns and leases several offices in the building.”
“He let the children go out to play.” This is the saying the same thing as: “He allowed the children to go out to play.”
If we change the tense (from past tense to present tense 2 ) we get:
“He lets the children go out to play.” This is also the same thing as: “He allows the children to go out to play.”
“He let the flat to me last year.” This is the same as: “He leased the flat to me last year.”
Again, if we change the tense from past to present, we get:
“He lets the flat to me.” This is the same thing as, “He leases his flat to me.”
So, ‘Lets’ is the present participle of ‘Let’, which can mean either ‘allow’ or ‘lease’.
‘Let’ is a peculiar little word. Look at its participles:
Past tense – let
Present tense – lets
Future tense – let
Yesterday, I let myself into the house.
Every afternoon, he lets himself into his house.
Tomorrow, she will let herself into her house.
Now we come to the homophone–the word which sounds the same, but has a different spelling.
“Let’s” is always based on the word ‘Let’ meaning ‘to allow’. It is never based on ‘Let’ meaning ‘to lease’.
Let’s is a contraction of ‘Let us’. For example:
“Let us go the cinema.” –> “Let’s go the cinema”.
“If it rains, let us stay inside.” –> “If it rains, let’s stay inside.”
|Let||Lease||Lets||Leases (present tense)|
|Let||Allow||Lets||Allows (present tense)|
Fun Exercises with Lets vs Let’s
Here are some exercises to help you cement your knowledge of Lets vs Let’s. Have fun with them. (If you run into any difficulties, contact me. You can use the form below or the ‘Contact Me’ menu item.)
Fill in the blanks with lets or let’s (use capitals where necessary):
- ___ wait for the rain to stop before we go shopping.
- John said, “I’m really hungry. ___ find something to eat.”
- He often ___ his son drive his car.
- She ___ her friends borrow her designer handbag.
- I love it when my Dad ___ me shoot the gun.
- Who ___ this property to you right now?
- I know a man who currently ___ rooms in New Delhi.
- She always interrupts her husband. She never ___ him speak!
- She said, “___ just go to the cinema.”
- I want to live there. ___ find out who ___ it.
- In phonetics, used as a technical term, homonyms do not have to be spelt the same way.
- Actually, if you want to get technical about it, it’s the indefinite present tense