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Permission & Obligation: Make, Let, Allow

 These three words are used to talk about permission and obligation.


If someone obliges, forces someone to do something, we use "make". The construction is:

make someone do something.

Unlike most verb, then, we don't use "to" in the infinitive.


My teacher made me do extra homework because of the trouble I caused.
Some banks make you pay too many bank charges.

In the passive, we add "to" after make.

She was made to leave the room while the plans were discussed.


If we have permission from someone to do something, we use "let". The construction is:

let someone do something.

Again, we don't use "to" in the infinitive.


My mother lets me stay out till midnight on a Saturday.
Let me go! I promise I won't tell anyone.

  • In the passive, let is not possible. We must use allow to:

I was allowed to leave early.


If someone gives us permission or the possibility to do something, we use "allow to". The construction is:

allow someone to do something.


Working from home allows me to spend more time with my family
My father never allows me to stay out too late.

It is used very often in the passive. In this way, the person given the permission is made the subject of the sentence.

You're not allowed to smoke in this room.
They're not allowed to get married yet. Their parents say they are too young.