Allow vs Permit vs Let vs Enable


Could you explain the differences between ‘allow vs permit vs let vs enable’? Thank you.

ENABLE The verb enable means ’make it possible’ or ’authorize’. It is not used when talking about permission. The structure:

  • This position enabled me to learn a lot about customer service. (made it possible)
  • The site enables you to access students’ work online. (makes it possible)
  • This badge will enable you to pass through all the gates. (authorize)
  • This visa will enable you to enter the country. (authorize)

The verb allow can also be used to mean ’make it possible’:

  • This position allowed me to learn a lot about customer service.
  • This site allows you to access students’ work online.

LET, PERMIT, ALLOW The verbs let, permit and allow mean ’give permission’. LET   The verb ’let’ is the least formal, use it when talking to friends. It is not used in the Passive Voice (I’m not let go out. = NOT correct) The structure: LET somebody DO something

  • Let me explain it to you.
  • Let her go.
  • My parents don’t let me go out with Jake.
  • I won’t let you make the same mistake.
  • Let me get you a drink.
  • (You can also use ’let’ with a single preposition: Let me in. Let her out.)

ALLOW and PERMIT   ’Allow’ is more formal than ’let’. ’Permit’ is the most formal of the three verbs. The structure: ALLOW/PERMIT somebody TO DO something

  • They don’t allow their children to go to the pub.
  • Allow me to get you a drink.
  • They don’t permit their workers to wear jeans.

These verbs are often used in the Passive Voice:

  • Their children are not allowed to go to the pub.
  • The workers are not permitted to wear jeans.
  • I wasn’t allowed to stay out late when I was a teenager.
  • Factory workers weren’t permitted to leave the premises during work hours.

They can also be used without a personal object:

  • I don’t allow smoking in the bedroom.
  • They don’t permit putting up fences here.

let vs allow vs permit vs enable

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