Let’s talk about “Let”

A phrasal verb is a phrase that consists of a verb or some other element, particle or an adverb, or both.

Nada Radenkovic
Nada Radenkovic
Book lesson

There was a student recently who is quite good at English. Somewhere between Intermediate and Upper Intermediate Level. Yet, he is struggling with vocabulary. So, he asked his teacher a question:  “Can you tell me more about the verb Let?”

The teacher smiled, pondered a little bit, and said:
“Hm, let me see, let me think about it a little bit. Let me check.”

The student said:
“Ok, no problem. Take your time.”

He wasn’t even aware that he already understood the meaning of the verb itself and what the teacher was saying to him, yet, he was patiently waiting for a response and clarification.

The teacher continued:
“You see, the basic meaning of the verb “let” is “to allow,” “not prohibit” or “invite.” However, there are many other varieties of this verb which are called phrasal verbs and idioms. Let’s check some of those varieties.”

Phrases with “let”

1. Let battle commence — an idiom. Means “to begin,” “to start.”

Let the battle begin!

2. Let bygones be bygones — an idiom. Means to forgive and forget that something had been done, a disagreement, or any other kind of misunderstanding.

I know we've had our fights over the years, but I think it's time we let bygones be bygones.

3. Let down — a phrasal verb. Means disappoint.

If I let him down now, I knew he'd never trust me again.

4. Let it all hang out — an idiom is an informal and a bit old-fashioned expression meaning to be very relaxed or uninhibited.

You should let it all hang out, otherwise, it will cause you more stress.

5. Let me be brief — an idiom. Means to speak for a short period of time.

Let me be brief as I am positive all of you are in a mood for a lunch break.

The difference between the phrasal verb and idiom

The teacher found it necessary to also explain the difference between the phrasal verbs and idioms. So, let’s have a look:

a). A phrasal verb is a phrase that consists of a verb or some other element, particle or an adverb, or both. Fo example, “break down” (adverb), “see to” (preposition), “look down on” (both).

b). An idiom is a group of words where the meaning is not typically derived from the meaning from individual words but rather has another origin. Fo example, “over the moon,” “see the light.”

Keeping this in mind we can say that the following expressions “let’s see,” “let’s check,” “let’s think,” “let down,” etc. are phrasal verbs.

On the other hand, “Let the battle commence,” “let bygones be bygones,” “let it all hang out,” “let someone be brief” are idioms.

When the teacher listed all of those phrases, he asked the student what he wanted to do with all of them now.

The student responded:
“I just want to learn them now. Thank you!”

Being so impressed by the student’s dedication to studying English, he suggested just listening to some music till the end of the class. So, he played The Beatles’ Song “Let It Be.” Sometimes, even music can teach us so much.

Additional examples of the verbs with “let”:

Willow Creek (2013)
Dirty Pretty Things (2002)
The Gift (2015)
Peeples (2013)
Silverado (1985)

Nada Radenkovic

I'm a certified English teacher from Serbia. More than anything, I like teaching English and getting to know new cultures. Do not hesitate to join my class as it would be my pleasure to work with you.

Book private lesson
per hour
trial hour

Cecilia Gigliotti

I have extensive experience writing in a variety of genres, from literary novels to music reviews to academic articles. I appreciate the power of words.

Milena Lazova

I'm an ESL teacher with over 7 years of experience in providing original content. I really like writing educational articles which may help others learn some aspects of English.

Geoffrey Mutie

My name is Geoffrey! I am constantly looking for new ways to improve my writing skills and my interpersonal skills, which in my opinion help a person be professional.