Word Choice – Let’s Versus Lets

BizWritingTip reader: “So what is correct: Let’s discuss it in the morning or lets discuss it in the morning?”

BizWritingTip response: Many business people associate apostrophes with possession. However, the apostrophe was initially used in the 16th century to indicate the omission of letters. It turns words into a contraction. (It wasn’t until the 17th century that printers began using the apostrophe for possession.)

Examples of contractions

You’re (you are)
It’s (it is or it has)
Can’t (cannot)

Therefore, when you use an apostrophe with let, it’s a contracted word. You are really saying let us.

Examples (correct)

Let’s avoid rush hour and leave early. (Let us avoid … .)
Let’s discuss it in the morning. (Let us discuss … . )

You may have seen the word lets and it was used correctly. Lets is merely a variation of the verb to let meaning to allow to. It is handled like most verbs.

Example

The GO Train lets him get to work on time.

My trick is to try inserting the words let us into the sentence. If the sentence makes sense, then use the apostrophe. If it doesn’t make sense, then don’t use the apostrophe.

Understanding this rule lets you look knowledgeable with regard to grammar.

 

 

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