Difference Wiki

Allow vs. Permit: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on December 12, 2023
Allow means to give permission or enable someone to do something. Permit refers to officially authorizing or giving consent for an action or event.

Key Differences

Allow often implies a less formal permission, possibly in a personal or casual context. Permit typically suggests a more formal or official authorization, often documented.
When someone allows something, it can be through a personal decision or tolerance. In contrast, to permit something usually involves a process or adherence to rules or laws.
Allow can also mean to enable or make possible, extending beyond the concept of permission. Permit, however, is more strictly associated with the act of giving permission, especially in a formal or legal sense.
The term allow can imply a certain degree of reluctance or concession, whereas permit often denotes a more deliberate and considered authorization.
Both allow and permit enable an action to take place, but allow often conveys a softer, more permissive tone, whereas permit carries a weightier, more authoritative connotation.

Comparison Chart


Less formal, often personal
More formal, often official


Casual, everyday situations
Formal, legal, or official contexts


Can imply tolerance or concession
Suggests deliberate authorization


Broader, includes enabling
Specifically about giving permission


Often verbal or implicit
Usually requires official documents

Allow and Permit Definitions


To give permission.
The teacher allowed the students to leave early.


To allow something within a set of rules.
Regulations permit only limited fishing in the lake.


To enable or make possible.
The new policy allows more flexibility in work hours.


To provide legal authorization.
The license permits her to operate a vehicle.


To tolerate or permit by default.
She allows her neighbors to use her driveway.


To give formal or official permission.
The city council permits new construction in the area.


To not prevent or forbid.
He allowed his kids to play outside.


To authorize by issuing a document.
The government permits the import of certain goods.


To acknowledge or admit.
The company allowed that mistakes were made.


To grant consent formally.
The law permits citizens to file a petition.


To let do or happen; permit
We allow smoking only in restricted areas.


To allow the doing of (something); consent to
Permit the sale of alcoholic beverages.


To grant consent or leave to (someone); authorize
Permitted him to explain.


What does allow mean?

Giving permission or enabling an action.

Does allow imply less authority than permit?

Yes, allow is often less authoritative.

What does permit mean?

Officially authorizing or consenting to something.

Does a permit guarantee safety?

Not always, it just means authorization.

Can a company allow practices not explicitly permitted by law?

Yes, if they don't violate any laws.

Do permits always involve fees?

Often, but not always.

Can an employer allow exceptions to rules?

Yes, within their discretion.

Is a permit always a document?

Often, especially in legal or official contexts.

Are permits required for all businesses?

Many types, but not all, require permits.

Can allow and permit be used interchangeably?

Sometimes, but permit is more formal and official.

Can an individual allow something illegal?

Yes, but it doesn't make the action legal.

Can you allow something you don't agree with?

Yes, as a form of tolerance.

Can laws allow and permit different things?

Yes, depending on interpretation and context.

Can parents allow something a school does not permit?

Yes, within their personal domain.

Is a driving permit the same as a license?

No, a permit usually has more restrictions.

Can cultural norms allow what laws do not permit?

Yes, but legal standards still apply.

How long does a permit usually last?

It varies depending on the type.

Do permits require renewal?

Often, especially for ongoing activities.

Can a teacher permit something against school policy?

No, they must follow school policies.

Are permits transferable between states or countries?

Usually not, as rules vary by jurisdiction.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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