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What’s the difference between leave and let?

Let and leave have similar meanings, however, they are not interchangeable.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about these tricky verbs.

Once you’ve mastered the difference, put your knowledge to the test in the free exercises.


Let can have the following meanings:

  • to allow or give someone permission to do something
They only let the children eat sweets on the weekend.
My boss let me go home early yesterday.
  • to allow something to happen by not doing anything to prevent it
I was watching TV and I let the cake burn in the oven.
You should let your beard grow, it would look really cool.
I just let him shout until he was finished.
  • we also use the construction let’s + infinitive to make suggestions.
Let’s go to the beach after work.


Leave has the following meanings:

  • to not interfere with something so that it remains unchanged
Leave the door open, it’s very warm in here.
I think you should leave the Christmas tree the way it is, it already looks great.
  • to go away or depart from somewhere, temporarily or for a longer time.
I left work at 5 o’clock.
He left home when he was 16.
  • to forget something
I left my keys on the train.
You left your phone here last night.

We use the phrasal verb leave sb/sth out when somebody or something is not included.

Tell me the whole story and don’t leave anything out.
The other children often leave him out at school, so he feels a bit lonely.

See also Leave/Forget.