Lend or Borrow?

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Lend or Borrow?

What is the difference between "lend" and "borrow"?
  • "To lend" means to give something to someone for a short time. For example:
    • Can you lend me your car?
  • "To borrow" means to receive something from someone for a short 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.

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.
  • 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.

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.
  • A nation's strength ultimately consists in what it can do on its own, and not in what it can borrow from others.
Remembering "Lend" and "Borrow"

  • "To lend" has the same number of syllables as "to give."
  • "To borrow" has the same number of syllables as "to receive."
Ready for the Test?
Here is a confirmatory test for this lesson.

This test can also be:
  • Edited (i.e., you can delete questions and play with the order of the questions).
  • Printed to create a handout.
  • Sent electronically 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