How to use make and let

Be careful with the grammar of “make” and “let”.

In English, the verbs “make” and “let” are followed by an object and the infinitive without “to”. For example:

They can’t make you work late.
She made him do the exercise again.

She lets the students sing in class.
His parents let him paint his room black.

But in the passive form, “make” is followed by the infinitive with “to”:

They were made to do the exercise again.
Cinderella was made to sweep the floor before she could go out.

There is no passive form of “let”. Instead, you can use the verb “allow”:

He was allowed to stay up late.
She is never allowed to go to discos.

The verb “Have” can also be used in this pattern:

Please have your secretary call me as soon as possible.

(Please ask your secretary to call me…)

He had his car repaired yesterday.

Other English verbs not followed by the infinitive + to

Modal verbs (can, will, would, etc) are followed by the infinitive without “to”:

I can see him clearly.
They will leave early tomorrow.
If I were you, I would talk to her.

(Click here for more information on modals.)

See / hear / watch someone followed by the infinitive without “to”:

She saw the girl steal the money. (She saw all the action of stealing.)
I heard him tell her about the party.” (I heard all about the party.)
I watched them do the exercise. (I watched them complete the exercise.)

But remember:
If you follow these verbs with the gerund form (ing), you only see part of the action.

She saw him talking to the teacher. (She didn’t see the whole conversation.)

See also How to use gerunds in English and our page on infinitives for more information.