Curious Question #10 – “Let’s” and “Why don’t”

Let’s listen to this Culips episode! This time we talk about the expressions beginning with “Let’s…” and “Why don’t we…”, give your examples and explain the differences between them. Why don’t you stop reading and listen to it now!


Expressions included in the learning materials

  • Let’s” and “Why don’t?
  • To hang out
  • Making Suggestions Here are a few other ways that we can make suggestions:
    1. How about we go for a walk?
    2. How about going for a walk?
    3. What about just hanging out here?

Sample transcript

Harp: The question in this episode is from Ming in China:

Maura: What is the difference between “Let’s do…” and “Why don’t we do…”?

Harp: The answer is simple. There is really no difference in meaning or intention. They are essentially the same. In your standard ESL textbook these expressions are often taught together because they are used in the same way: to suggest something.

Maura: Let’s go see a movie. Why don’t we see a movie? In both cases I’m suggesting we see a movie.

Harp: With “Let’s…” it’s actually “Let us,” but we always say it as a contraction, “Let’s.” I have never heard anyone use this expression without the contraction. Someone might say “Let us” to sound really proper and formal.

Maura: “Let us go to tea.” I was trying to sound really proper and formal there. Maybe you noticed. With “Why don’t …?” we’re suggesting that there is no reason to not do that. In other words, there are no reasons to prevent us from doing that. That is the technical meaning.

Harp: “Why don’t…?” is written as a question; whereas the expression with “Let’s…” is written as a sentence. Even though “Why don’t…?” is written as a question, we don’t answer it directly.

Maura: Here’s an example of how you might answer a suggestion with “Why don’t we…?” Go ahead Harp…

Harp: Why don’t we go for a walk?

Maura: OK, sure.

Harp: Why don’t we watch a movie tonight?

Maura: I just watched one last night, so I don’t really want to. Harp: We can also say, “Why doesn’t he…?” or “Why don’t I…?” In this way it is more flexible. When we say “Let’s…” it is always referring to “us.” But with “Why don’t…?” we can use it to talk about different individuals and groups of people.

english PodcastAudio/Learning Materials: Culips