3

It is interesting for me to know how one can distinguish the case in which one should use "allow" from the case in which one should use "let".
For example:

Jim's parents wouldn't {allow/let} him go to the demonstration.

How can we decide what word to use? It seems reasonable to use either allow or let. I don`t feel the difference at all. What is the matter?

2

I don't know that there's a meaning difference between them in that use.

What there is, is a sort of "formality" difference. "Allow" sounds more formal to me than "let". Using "let" is relaxed while "allow" sounds a bit stiff.

One note, though... using allow in the sentence as-is is actually incorrect. You need to add "to":

Jim's parents wouldn't allow him to go to the demonstration.

Conversely, as Colleen rightly points out, "let him to go" would be incorrect. So, your options are:

Jim's parents wouldn't allow him to go to the demonstration.
Jim's parents wouldn't let him go to the demonstration.

  • So the difference between "allow him to go" versus "let him go" is interesting. It would be wrong to say "let him to go". I'd have to do some research to figure out why one form works with allow and not with let. – ColleenV Feb 22 '17 at 21:31
  • @ColleenV Interesting point. I wonder if it's been discussed on ELU.... and it has but it doesn't have much support, so I'm not sure what to think of it. – Catija Feb 22 '17 at 21:36
  • Another thing is that we don't use "let" in a passive construction, we use "be+allowed to" – user178049 Feb 22 '17 at 22:50

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