Let’s vs Lets – When Does It Need An Apostrophe

Let’s vs lets – do you find it difficult to know which one you should be using in your writing?

‘Let’s’ and lets are different verb forms from the same root word: ‘let’. ‘Let’ can refer to one of several nouns or several verbs which sound the same but have different meanings.

The structure and context of the sentence should give a good steer on both meaning and when to use let’s vs lets.

When to Use Let’s

‘Let’s’ is formed by contracting ‘let us’ into a single word. ‘Let’s’ means something like ‘we should’. It’s commonly used to encourage others to take part in an action, to politely suggest an action, to follow a line of thought, or to express impatience.

So, correct uses could include:

  • Let’s go down to the river and swim!”
  • Let’s now look again at chapter 4 in our geometry work books.”
  • “I’ve had enough of listening to this nonsense. Let’s go.”

Notice that in all of the above examples you could substitute ‘Let’s‘ for the words ‘Let Us‘ and the sentence would still make sense.

When to Use Lets

Lets is the present tense, third-person singular form of the verb ‘let’ which means to allow or permit something to happen. So we could say: “She lets her dogs run free in the fields behind her house.”

Lets is also the plural form of the noun ‘let’, which can have several meanings. A let can be a rental or hire, or it can be an instance of null play which must be repeated in racquet sports.

For example:

  • “The downtown rental agency has at least ten short-term lets on its books.”
  • “During their match the ball caught the net repeatedly, causing at least three lets.”

In all of the above examples if you substituted ‘Lets‘ for the words ‘Let Us‘, the sentence does not make sense.

More Examples of Let’s in Sentences

  • Let’s all get together and buy a joint present for John’s birthday next week.
  • Let’s make a decision about your preferred colleges after the exam results come out.
  • Now that we’ve thoroughly covered the module on triangles, let’s move on to the geometry of circles.

More Examples of Lets in Sentences

  • Jane had a tricky season this year, with several lets in every game.
  • She lets her children travel to school by themselves because they’re older now.
  • After that storm, the roof is leaking badly and lets water in through the kitchen ceiling.

How to Remember the Difference Between Let’s and Lets

The best way to remember when to use which form is to focus on the apostrophe and remember that this indicates that two words have been ‘contracted’, that is shortened and merged into one.

When you think of ‘let’s’ in its full form of ‘let us’, it’s less likely that you will be confused about let’s vs lets.

Test Yourself on Let’s vs Lets with these Sentences (fill in the blanks)

If you’re ready to test your understanding on let’s vs lets, let’s try a few easy exercises:

  • Our tutor  ____  us mark our own work in the weekly tests.
  • Sara doesn’t like loud music and drinking. ____ not go to that nightclub for her birthday.
  • Are there any long-term ____ available for the coming year?
  • ____ see what your parents say first before we book the tickets.

A Final Word…

I hope that has given you a clearer idea about when to use let’s vs lets.

Just remember that let’s is the same as writing Let us and you won’t go far wrong.

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About Jon Wright

Jon has worked in Digital Marketing for over 20 years, mainly for large enterprises. He now runs an eCommerce Agency that helps merchants build and grow their stores. He writes about SEO, CRO amongst other things.

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