What’s the Difference between Let and Make?

Hi English learners. Welcome to a new lesson. We will be talking about the difference between let and make.

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To let someone do something means to give them permission to do it. The structure is let + object + infinitive without to.

  • Sandra let her children play hide and seek in the garden.
  • You mustn’t let such a big mistake happen again.
  • Don’t let the grass grow under your feet. 
  • Michael wanted to help Fiona with the dishes but she wouldn’t let him.
  • You shouldn’t let your boss talk to you like that.

The difference between let and make


To make someone do something means to force them to do it, often against their own will. The structure is make + object + infinitive without to.

  • The teacher made him stay in school after everyone else left.
  • They make the workers work very hard for little pay.
  • You can’t make Barry go with you if he doesn’t want to.
  • The police officer asked him questions in order to make him talk.
  • My parents always make me go to bed in the middle of the film.

Make and let in passive and active forms

While make requires infinitive without to in the active form, it takes infinitive with to in the passive form.

  • Mike was made to eat his breakfast although he wasn’t hungry.
  • The citizens were made to pay the tax.
  • The workers are made to attend the meeting.

The difference between let and make

There is no passive form of let. Instead, we can use be allowed to + infinitive with to

  • The employees were allowed to smoke in the yard.
  • The students are allowed to use dictionaries for the exam.
  • The dogs were allowed to walk around the park without a leash.

Common mistake

Don’t confuse the causative forms make someone do something and have someone do something. To make someone do something means to force them to do it but to have someone do something means to ask someone to do something for you.

  • She made him fix the light. (she forced him to fix it).
  • She had the man fix the light (she asked the man to do it)

Find out more about causative verbs have, get, let, make, help here.

Do the exercise to perfect your knowledge. Use the correct form of let and make in these sentences:

  1. They ……… me wait for half an hour.
  2. Don’t …… him eat that much chocolate.
  3. The police ……. him admit to stealing the painting.
  4. She doesn’t want to ……. her disability prevent her from living life to the full.
  5. Sara’s parents ……. her stay at the party till midnight.
  6. The security guard ……. the tourists open their bags.
  7. The landlord ……. them pay the bills.
  8. We would appreciate it if you would ……. us know about the results of the test.
  9. An effort ……. to exterminate the insects in the building.
  10. The passengers …….. to leave the ship.

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The difference between let and make
The difference between let and make

Answer: 1. made, 2. let, 3. made, 4. let, 5. let, 6. made, 7. made, 8. let, 9. was made, 10. were allowed

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