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Leave Or Let

Leave or let

Laisser in French can be translated to leave or let in English. This causes a lot of confusion for French speakers learning English. Look at these examples and try this simple trick to figure out if you should use leave or let.


Leave has many meanings but it usually means to depart or be allowed to remain.

A very common mistake with leave vs let is with voice mail. We leave a message. (Your message will remain as a record that you called.)

Hi, this is Marie. I am not available right now. Please leave a message and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

  • Stacey left a document for you to sign. (Stacey departed but the documents remains here for your signature.)
  • There are five slices of cake left. (There are five slices of cake remaining.)
  • I will leave the decision up to you. (The decision remains yours.)

*If you want more information about how to use leave in English, especially for as a synonym of depart, try this post.


Let is usually about permission. We could replace let with allow in these sentences.

  • They let the criminal go free. (They allowed the criminal to go free.)
  • Let him come in. (Allow him to come in.)
  • Let them figure it out for themselves. (Allow them to figure it out for themselves.)
  • Let me pay for dinner. (Please allow me to pay for dinner.)

Leave or Let? That is the question! Try this simple trick to see which one to use.

If you can’t figure out if you should use leave or let, try this simple trick.

  1. Replace the leave or let by allow.
  2. Does it make sense?
  3. Yes = use let
  4. No = use leave

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