Let

The verb let means “to allow.” There is quite a debate about its proper usage. It’s usage is easy to some people and it’s not for others. We’ll look at this verb and how to use it.

The structure of a sentence with let is:

Subject + let + object + bare infinitive form of the verb + object of the verb in bare infinitive form+ adverb.

Ex: She let him wash her car.

In this sentence, she is the subject. Let is the main verb. Him is the object of the main verb let. Then, you have the bare infinitive wash. Wash is the bare infinitive form of the verb to wash. Now, what is he washing? Her car. Her car is the object of the bare infinitive wash. Hence, there is a main verb and the bare infinitive form of another verb in the above sentence and they both have different objects.

You don’t always see two objects in a sentence with let. This is because not all verbs have objects. Look at the example below:

Ex: I let him sleep here.

The speaker is the subject. Let is the main verb. Him is the object of the main verb let. Sleep is the bare infinitive. The verb sleep has no objects. Tonight is the adverb. So, the above is an example of sentences with let where the bare infinitive has no objects.

Remember, the verb let has no passive voice form. So, you can’t use let in passive voice. You can use let only in active voice. You cannot say,

I was let to sleep here.

This is wrong, because let has no passive voice form.

Most commonly, you’ll see the verb let in imperative sentences. When used this way, let makes suggestions and gives angry commands.

Let us go to a restaurant.

Let me eat in peace!

In the first sentence, the speaker is making a suggestion. In the second, the speaker is shouting at someone and ordering them to leave him/her alone.

Note that when we make suggestions with let, we usually make them using the form let us.