Lend or Borrow?

What Is the Difference between "Lend" and "Borrow"?

"Lend" and "borrow" are easy to confuse because they both describe situations involving temporary ownership.
  • "Lend" means to give something to someone for a short time. For example:
    • Can you lend me your car for a day?
  • "Borrow" means to receive something from someone for a short time. Example:
    • May I borrow your car for a day?
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.

Example sentences with "lend":
  • If it rains, I will lend you my walking boots.
  • (Remember that "to lend" means "to give for a short time.")
  • A bank is a place where they lend you an umbrella in fair weather and ask for it back when it begins to rain. correct tick
  • If Givenchy is going to lend me a dress, I'm not going to turn it down. correct tick


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

Example sentences with "borrow":
  • If it rains, can I borrow your walking boots?
  • (Remember that "to borrow" means "to receive for a short time.")
  • A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers but borrowed from his children. correct tick
  • A nation's strength ultimately consists in what it can do on its own, and not in what it can borrow from others. correct tick

Remembering "Lend" and "Borrow"

  • "Lend" has one syllable like "give."
  • "Borrow" has two syllables like "receive."
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This page was written by Craig Shrives.