Lend or Borrow?

by Craig Shrives
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?

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.
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose? What are nouns? List of easily confused words