Lets, Let, or Letted: Unraveling the Correct Past Tense of “Let”

  • The verb “let” remains the same in both present and past tense.
  • “Letted” is incorrect usage; “let” is the proper past tense form.
  • While “let” is versatile in use, its conjugation is straightforward and without variation.

The nuances of using “let” correctly hinge on recognizing that it does not follow the regular verb pattern of adding “-ed” for its past tense. An exploration of “let” in various tenses illuminates common mistakes and clarifies its function within the language. The simplicity of “let” is deceptive; it can serve multiple grammatical functions, from denoting permission to expressing a proposal when combined with “us.”

Lets, Let, or Letted – Which is the Correct Past Tense of Let?

When examining the correct past tense of the verb “let,” clarity is essential. The verb “let” itself functions uniquely in English.

“Let” is an irregular verb, notable for its unchanging form. It is one of the few verbs in English that keeps the same form for both the present tense and the past tense. In contrast, “letted” is an archaism and no longer in standard use. To dispel common confusion, “lets” refers to the third person singular present tense, not to be mistaken for a past tense form.

Below are two tables that outline the different forms of “let” in a present and past context:

Present TenseExample Sentence
I/You/We/They let“They let me borrow the book.”
He/She/It lets“She lets the cat out every morning.”
Past TenseExample Sentence
I/You/We/They let“We let them know in advance.”
He/She/It let“He let the opportunity slip by.”

To further clarify, here are some bullet points:

  • Present: “I let,” “you let,” “he/she/it lets,” “we let,” “they let”
  • Past: “I let,” “you let,” “he/she/it let,” “we let,” “they let”
  • Past Participle: “let” (used with has/have/had, as in “they have let” or “we had let”)
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In summary, the correct past tense form of “let” remains “let,” demonstrating its irregular property of remaining unchanged across present and past usages. This simplicity can sometimes lead to confusion, but once understood, it aids in the correct verbal expression in both written and spoken English.

Forms of ‘let’

Despite being seemingly straightforward, “let” has unique attributes. “Let” is recognized as an irregular verb, which plays a role in its past tense formation.

Present and Past Forms

The verb “let” is one constant form, whether in present or past tense. This trait distinguishes “let” from other verbs that often change forms. Here are the uses in both tenses:

  • Present Tense: “I let my friend borrow the book.”
  • Past Tense: “Yesterday, I let my friend borrow the book.”

Present Participle and Third-Person Singular Forms

The present participle and third-person singular forms show variation and are used in different contexts. Here’s how these forms are applied:

  • Present Participle/Gerund (letting): “I am letting my friend borrow the book.”
  • Third-Person Singular Present (lets): “She lets her friend borrow the book.”

Table of Verb Forms

Base Form (V1)Past Form (V2)Past Participle (V3)Present Participle (V4)Third-Person Singular (V5)
letletletlettinglets

Usage Demystified

When referring to the modified form “lets,” it is crucial to understand that it is not a past tense form, but rather the present tense third-person singular. Despite occasional linguistic misconceptions, there is no legitimate form such as “letted,” and its usage can be considered erroneous. The verb “let” demands adherence to its established forms, thereby requiring attention to the contexts where each is suitable.

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In conclusion, by grasping these straightforward principles, utilizing “let” in various tenses becomes a clear and error-free process.

Present and Past Forms of Let

Present Tense:

  • Singular: I let, you let, he/she/it lets
  • Plural: we let, you let, they let

Simple Past Tense:

  • All forms: I let, you let, he/she/it let, we let, you let, they let

“To let” remains the same in both the present and simple past tenses, illustrating its irregular nature and lack of a distinct past form.

Perfect Tenses and Common Mistakes

The perfect tenses of “to let” utilize the same form for the past participle as the simple past:

  • Past Perfect Tense: I had let, you had let
  • Present Perfect Tense: I have let, you have let
  • Future Perfect Tense: I will have let, you will have let

Common mistakes include adding an extra ‘ed’ to form “letted,” which is incorrect. The word “letted” does not exist in standard English usage.

Past tense vs. Past participle of let

The past tense and past participle of “let” do not change and are the same word:

TenseForm
Simple Pastlet
Past participlelet

This similarity often leads to less confusion when conjugating compared to other irregular verbs.

Synonyms of ‘let’

Synonyms for “let” include:

  • To permit: He permits them to play outside.
  • To allow: She allows the children to stay up late.

Origin of the verb ‘let’

The origin of “to let” can be traced to Old English “lettan,” meaning to hinder or delay. Over time, its use shifted to its current meaning of permitting something to happen.

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Irregular Verbs and Comparisons

“To let” is an irregular verb, similar to:

  • Set, Bet, Shed, Wed: These verbs also have the same form for their past and past participle.
  • It does not follow the regular conjugation pattern of adding “-ed” or “-d” to the base form.

Bullet points demonstrate clear parallels:

  • Regular verbs: end in -e; like “to close” becomes “closed”
  • Irregular verbs: do not follow a pattern; “to let” remains “let” in past forms

Source

Harper, Douglas. “Etymology of let.” Online Etymology Dictionary

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