How should verb goes with "let" be in past tenses?

  • Present tense: let's go; let me see
  • Past tense: let's went? let me saw?

I'm unable to search for any information about this. It seems like let will never be used in a past tense sentence

  • You could use the present tense in dialog: He said, "Let's go!"
    – Justin
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 14:42

3 Answers 3


The past form of let is let.


It is also used in the imperative.

Let me see it

You can not have past forms for imperative sentences.

However you can say:

My principal let me leave early yesterday.

He let me see the picture yesterday

Negative sentences:

The principal did not let me leave early yesterday

He did not let me see the picture yesterday

  • Why can't imperative sentences have past forms? Also, how do you convert the two examples ("My principal let me...", "He let me...") to past forms? Do "leave" and "see" change to "left" and "saw"?
    – Ooker
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 15:17
  • 1
    @Ooker - Those two examples are already in the past tense. If they were present tense, let would be lets (no apostrophe), and you'd need to remove yesterday.
    – Justin
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 17:37

There's no such thing as a "past tense" for Let's go, Let me see - which technically speaking are imperative requests / commands / suggestions, with implied subject "you".

The nearest equivalents I think of are We should have gone, You should have let me see, because the "present tense" versions are equivalent to We should go, You should let me see.

  • Sure. We let go is "ambiguous", in that it could be Present or Past (which I guess makes it a "degenerate" verb). But both OP's examples are imperatives, so I don't think it's really necessary to cover other contexts. Having said that, I agree with JVL's answer as well (which of course I've upvoted! :) It's an interesting question as to whether we should understand Let's go! as a "first person plural imperative" though - if/when my currently dicky broadband connection ungums itself I might look to see if that specific point has ever been addressed on ELU. Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 16:28
  • Let's go.

let's + a verb in English is an imperative. Imperatives are only in the present tense. The meaning is: Let's leave this place or Let's do [something].

  • Let me see. means to allow someone to see something or it is an idiom meaning: Let me see if something another person says works or is right in a context.

The verb let is the same in all tenses:

They let us go to the movies. [both simple present AND simple past] They have let us go to the movies. [this week, this month, recently, this year etc.] They are letting us go to the movies.

There are other verbs that do not change in English: put, set, hit, cost, hurt, shut, quit, split, and spread.

I know of no language that has imperatives in other tenses. The nature of the imperative is that it applies to the present.

"My principal let me [do something]." can be simple present or simple past. Only a specific context will tell you which it is.

to let go is also a phrasal verb: Let it go. [disregard it or let something loose, like a fish you catch]

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