‘Lend’ or ‘Borrow’

The very common verbs lend and borrow are confusing for many learners of English. One reason this happens is
because lend and borrow have the same basic meaning, but are used for different “directions” in English.

If you borrow something from somebody, you take it with their permission and promise to return it in due course, at the end of a limited period usually. If you borrow £5,000 from the bank, you will owe them £5,000, plus interest on the period of time you have borrowed if for.

Consider the following:

  • ‘I borrowed five pounds from my brother and forgot to pay it back.’
  • ‘I always buy the books I want to read, although I agree it would be cheaper to borrow them from the library.’
  • ‘Many of his ideas are borrowed from other sources.’

borrow vs lend

If you lend somebody something, or lend something to somebody, then you give them something of yours for a limited period of time. If you lend someone some money, they will owe you the money.

Consider the following:

  • ‘She lent her sister her car for the weekend.’ (NB: verb + indirect object + direct object)
  • ‘If you lend your coat to Philip, you’ll never see it again.’ (NB: verb + direct object + indirect object)
  • ‘If you can lend me a hand with these reports, we might finish them by suppertime.’

Watch the video explanation below: