Difference Between Allow, Permit And Let

These words have similar meanings. Permit is more formal than allow.

  • Smoking is not allowed / permitted.

Both allow and permit can be followed by object + infinitive.

  • We do not allow / permit our kids to stay up late.
  • We do not allow / permit people to smoke in the house.
  • Please allow / permit me to go.

An -ing form is used after allow / permit if there is no personal object.

  • We do not allow / permit smoking in the house.

Permit can be used in the passive form with it. Passive forms of allow cannot be used with it.

  • It is not permitted to smoke in the house. (NOT It is not allowed to smoke in the house.)

With adverb particles only allow is used.

  • She wouldn’t allow me in. (NOT She wouldn’t permit me in.)

Let is less formal than allow and permit. It is followed by an object + infinitive without to.

  • Please allow me to get you a drink. (Quite formal)
  • Please let me get you a drink. (Rather informal)

Passive structures with let are not usually possible.

  • I wasn’t allowed to go. (NOT I wasn’t let go.)

Let can be used with adverb particles like in and out.

  • She wouldn’t let me in.

Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets.

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