'Let Someone Do Something' or 'Let Someone to Do Something'? | Mastering Grammar

(Last Updated: 16 April 2024)

Let Someone Do Something or Let Someone to Do Something: Which One Is Correct?

When learning a new language, it is common to encounter certain patterns that may seem natural sounding but are actually incorrect. One such mistake is using the pattern let someone to do something.

The correct form is let someone do something. The verb let is followed directly by an object and the base form of a verb without to:

She let her friend borrow the car.
She let her friend to borrow the car.

✅ My parents let me go to the concert with my friends.
❌ My parents let me to go to the concert with my friends.

✅ The teacher let us use calculators during the exam.
❌ The teacher let us to use calculators during the exam.

✅ They let their cat roam freely in the backyard.
❌ They let their cat to roam freely in the backyard.

✅ He let his brother use his new laptop.
❌ He let his brother to use his new laptop.

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Examples from the Media

Despite their history, Lipstadt spoke out against his imprisonment: "I am uncomfortable with imprisoning people for speech. Let him go and let him fade from everyone's radar screens," she said. Toronto Sun (2023)

Biden cannot sit back and let our democracy sink. —The Washington Post (2021)

So if I were the Princess, the need for surgery apart, I would relish this downtime. Enjoy your NFH. Let everyone else deal with everything in life for once and just concentrate on getting better. —Daily Mail (2024)

It's all worked far better than expected, but there's no denying it's come at a great cost. Should we have let all those people die of the virus? Should we have let the economy stay flat on its back? The debt panickers weren't saying that a year ago. —The Sydney Morning Herald (2021)

Real-World Examples of Misuse

1. In this sentence, let should be followed by the base form of the verb rule without to. The phrase rule the roost is an idiomatic expression meaning 'to be in charge or to have control over a place or situation'.
2. It would be more accurate to use the plural form voices because each girl has a unique voice to be heard. Since we are talking about multiple girls, we naturally refer to multiple voices, with the understanding that each girl is receiving support to express herself.
(Image Source: HKDSE English Language 2023 Question Papers)
(Also by HKEAA: 1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10/11/12/13/14)

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