What is the difference between “borrow” and “lend”? What do “borrow” and “lend” mean?

Learn the how they’re different here and how to use them. Check it out!

A lot of my students have made mistakes with the terms lend and borrow.

So I’m going to try to clear that up for you today.

The word “lend” is the same as the word “loan.” (Loan can also be a noun, referring to the money that is lent/loaned.)

They both start with an L.

To lend or to loan something is when you give something to someone temporarily

when you are expecting them to give it to you in the future.

This is often done with money or it can be with personal possessions such as clothes or a telephone,

a TV – anything really.

Now, borrow is the opposite. If you borrow, it means you are receiving something from somebody else –

usually money or personal possessions once again.

It’s very common for the bank to lend money to people and for people to borrow money from the bank. (This is called a loan.)

Okay, so borrowing is when you take something or receive something from someone else,

and in the future you have to give that thing back.

And lending or loaning is when you temporarily give something to someone else,

expecting them to give it back in the future.

“I forgot my wallet. Can you lend me $10?”

“Sam had to borrow $100 from his friend to pay the electric bill.”

“The bank loaned him $10,000 to start his business.”

“I lent him $300 so he could fix his car. He’s going to pay me back next week.”


So, as you can see, it’s really pretty easy and simple. To lend or loan is to give the money to someone else.

And, to borrow is to receive that money from someone else.

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