Scientific English as a Foreign Language
Answers to Lesson of October 16, 1998
Let and Leave

I often hear the verbs "to let" and "to leave" confused. This probably originates from the one case where they are interchangable--"Let him alone." and "Leave him alone.", meaning allow him to be in peace, are equivalent.

Although "to let" has nineteen different definitions in my dictionary, its primary senses are "to allow", "to allow to remain in the same condition", or "to rent". (This latter is chiefly British.) Examples are--

"To leave" has 24 different definitions, but these four encompass most of them: "to go away from", "to remain behind after going away", "to be at liberty", and "to allow to remain in the same condition". Examples are--

Try these!

1. When I was in the Army, I could only get leave for three days at a time.
2. I'll let you use my computer, if you can make sure to leave it before 10:00 when I need it again.
3. When you leave the office, please turn out the lights.
4. If you know of a house for let, please tell me, I need a place to stay.
5. We should let/leave her alone while she is preparing her talk.

Said the Bishop of Stockton-on-Tees
to the lady who sat on his knees,
"While I give you a kiss,
you may fiddle with this,
but please not with these."

-author unknown

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Created October 16, 1998, by Nancy Burnham and Fred Hutson.