As a rule, we don't use the passive voice with "let". "Allow" or "permit" is normally used instead:

We were allowed to do whatever we wanted.

We were permitted to drive the vehicle.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, we don't usually use the passive with "let", but are there any exceptions?

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    As far as I know, the passive 'let' is only used of property, not persons. 'The apartment was let to a new family.' Except in the expression without let of hindrance, which is arguably a 'passive noun'. – Nigel J Jun 10 '18 at 13:42
  • Matrix passivisation is found with causitive "have" in for example "They let the prisoner be flogged for a minor crime". – BillJ Jun 10 '18 at 14:23
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    @Nigel J Also arguably with fixed expressions; They let the birds free <==> The birds were let free. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 10 '18 at 14:34
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    There's also an idiom for firing someone. "He was let go." – Al Maki Jun 10 '18 at 15:57
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    Note that let does not allow a simple noun phrase as direct object: i.e, *Bill let it is ungrammatical (except for the sense of let that means 'rent'). Let normally occurs with a clause of some sort as complement, and passive is unlikely with a clausal object: Bill wants me to come to the party would be passivized to *For me to come to the party is wanted by Bill, which is hardly an improvement. So let doesn't normally passivize. – John Lawler Jun 10 '18 at 16:06

Strictly, the verb let has a transitive usage. As the Oxford online dictionary confirms (and, I am certain, the Cambridge also), the verb ‘to let’ is used in its sense of allow includes the transitive sense of to rent out property (apartments, office space, and so on).

British with object. Allow someone to have the use of (a room or property) in return for regular payments. ‘she let the flat to a tenant’. ‘they've let out their house’

By implication, we can have sentences like:

The apartment has already been let or on a notice board the one word Let indicating that the relevant property has just been let

But in fact, as the Oxford Dictionary goes on to point out, there are many well-known uses of ‘let’ in the sense of ‘allow’.

“I was badly let down by you.”

“Have my trousers been let out yet?”

“He was let down from the roof on a rope.”

“I’m letting you off the punishment this once, but you won’t be let off again.”

.... and so on.

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  • I'd say that let down (1 & 2), let out, and let off are all MWVs. OP is obviously not referring to the 'let' = 'rent' sense here. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 22 at 12:00
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    @EdwinAshworth As always, I agree. It’s a funny old thing, is usage, isn’t it? The absence from English of an infinitive form, leads English to use ‘to’ + the verb’s base for the equivalent job. But, for a very limited number of the ‘to’ gets omitted. It turns out to make no difference to our understanding. ‘Let’ is one and ‘make’ (as in “they made me do it” is another). In the passive, ‘to’ has to return with ‘make’ (“I was made to do it by them.”) -stilted but OK; With ‘let’ in the sense of ‘allow’ it is not used in the passive at all, except the passive of ‘to let go’. – Tuffy Aug 23 at 17:55

The sloop was tied up at the pier. All but the captain had been let ashore. The new captain, that is. The old captain and his first mate had been let adrift somewhere off Barbuda.

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An oddity of the transitive verb let is that it also means "hinder". Perhaps it's just British English, as it appears as a noun in British passports ("without let or hindrance") and it's also called in tennis if the ball hits the net as it passes over it. I don't know of any other reasonably common uses in modern English.

Thus it's possible to say "The ball was let" with that meaning.

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