Last week I left you by saying, “let’s see what we can focus on next week”. Well, it’s now ‘next week’ and the answer was staring me in the face; it was ‘let’s’.
If you ask a lot of people what the apostrophe stands for in ‘let’s’, they usually say ‘us’. I bought this, because having been a choirboy as a kid, I heard this regularly in ‘Let us pray’. Even at the time I thought it a bit funny and wanted the vicar to say ‘Let’s pray’ (which he never did, by the way!) As a person interested in language I became less certain that ‘s was ‘us’. In the same way that I was not sure the ‘ll was the contracted form of ‘will/shall’, I began to think ‘let’s’ should just exist in its own right, as ‘let’s’. Why? Because if you say ‘let’s go’ it’s pretty clear that you want to begin something, or leave, and you’re usually saying it to someone else, (although I often say it to myself!)
‘Let’s go’ is your suggestion and in your hands. However, if you and your colleagues are being held captive by someone, you couldn’t say ‘let’s go’ because you are in no position to make suggestions; it may even prompt your captors to do something you didn’t ask for! In this case you would have to say ‘let us go’ meaning, ‘please release us’. Once again, this reminded me of my days in the front benches and what me and the other choirboys were often praying for!
If you want to know more, let’s know. (Sounds weird yeah?). But ‘let us know’, sounds OK. Hope this has got you thinking! More next week!