Grammar Monster
Grammar Monster

Lend or Borrow?

The Quick Answer
What is the difference between lend and borrow?

To lend means to give something to someone for a short time. Example:
  • Can you lend me your car?
To borrow means to get something from someone for a short amount of time. Example:
  • May I borrow your car?

Lend or Borrow?

The verbs to lend and to borrow have similar meanings. The only difference is the direction. Many English speakers (native and non-native) confuse the two.


The verb to lend means to allow or give permission for someone to have or use something on the condition it is returned.

  • A bank is a place where they lend you an umbrella in fair weather and ask for it back when it begins to rain.
  • If Givenchy is going to lend me a dress, I'm not going to turn it down.


The verb to borrow means to obtain or take something from another person with the expectation it will be returned to its original owner.

  • A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.
  • A nation's strength ultimately consists in what it can do on its own, and not in what it can borrow from others.
Top Tip

A Way to Remember to Lend and to Borrow

To lend has the same amount of syllables as to give.

To borrow has the same amount of syllables as to receive.

Interactive Test