Learn How to use LEND and BORROW (with Video)

Learn to use the English verbs “Lend” and “Borrow” correctly in natural conversation. This post also contains a video. Watch it to review the lesson and improve your English listening skills.

Lend and Borrow

borrow [verb] to take and use something that belongs to somebody else, and return it to them at a later time
“Can I borrow $10.00?” = Can I GET $10.00 from you? (I will give the $10 back later.)
lend [verb] to give something to somebody or allow them to use something that belongs to you, which they have to return to you later
“Can you lend me $10.00?” = Can you GIVE me $10.00? (for now, not forever)
Definitions from http://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/

How I teach BORROW and LEND

Several of my private English students in Japan have asked me how to use the verbs lend and borrow. These verbs are easy to confuse. 

You can use each of these words in a sentence to explain the same action BUT – LEND and BORROW use different grammar. The subject and/or object of the sentence is not the same. 

Let me explain with 2 examples.

“Can I borrow $10.00?”

“Can you lend me $10.00?”

These 2 sentences have the same meaning. Whether you need to use lend or borrow depends on the subject of your sentence. I have had success explaining this to my students by comparing lend and borrow to give and get.

LEND is like give
BORROW is like get
The difference is that LEND and BORROW both mean that the thing (money, clothes, car etc.) will return to the original owner after some time. Give and get do not.

The difference is that LEND and BORROW both mean that the thing (money, clothes, car etc.) will return to the owner. Give and get do not.

Let me explain using our original examples and you will see how we can use the same grammar.

Lend and Borrow

Borrow meaning

borrow [verb] to take and use something that belongs to somebody else, and return it to them at a later time

Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary BORROW

“Can I borrow $10.00?”

The grammar for borrow is the same as get.

Can I get $10.00?

In this sentence the subject is I. The grammar for the sentence with I borrow is the same as the grammar for the sentence with I get. The difference is that borrow is not forever, it’s for a limited amount of time. After some time you will get the $10.00 back from me.

LEND and BORROW - borrow

*Note this is one specific use of the verb get – to receive something
Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary lists 27 uses for GET!
https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/get?q=get

Borrow and Get can both be used with the preposition FROM.

Most people borrow money from the bank to buy a house. (Borrow something FROM someone)
I always get money from my parents on my birthday. (Get something FROM someone)

Borrow verb tenses

Use Borrow in a sentence – verb tenses

Present tense – BORROW – Students in Canada can borrow money from the government to help pay for university.

Present tense third-person singular – BORROWS – My sister often borrows my clothes because we are the same size.

Learn more about third-person singular English grammar
https://worldenglishblog.com/third-person-singular-english-grammar/

Past – BORROWED – Tony borrowed my umbrella but he hasn’t given it back yet. I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow.

Past participle – BORROWED – I don’t trust Keith anymore. He has borrowed money from all of his friends but he hasn’t paid anyone back.

Continuous – (to be) BORROWING
A: “I like your car!”
B: “Thanks, but it’s not mine it’s my brother’s. I’m just borrowing it for the weekend.”

Lend meaning

lend [verb] to give something to somebody or allow them to use something that belongs to you, which they have to return to you later

Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary LEND

“Can you lend me $10.00?”

The grammar for lend is the same as give.

Can you give me $10.00?

In this sentence, the subject is you. The grammar for the sentence with you lend is the same as the grammar for the sentence with you give. The difference is that lend is not forever, it’s for a limited amount of time. After some time I will give the $10.00 back to you.

LEND and BORROW - LEND

Lend and Give can both be used with the preposition TO.

Many businesses are having trouble now. I will lend some money to my family if they need help. I am lucky because I can teach online. (Lend something TO someone)

I gave a necklace to my wife for our anniversary. (Give something TO someone)

Lend verb tenses

Use Lend in a sentence – verb tenses

Present tense – LEND – Did you lend your car to Marco? He’s not a good driver. 

Present tense third-person singular – LENDS – John is very kind. He lends money to anyone who needs help.

Past – LENT – Is Calvin at the office today? He lent me some money to buy lunch yesterday and I need to pay him back.

Past participle – LENT – I have lent money to friends in the past and it caused trouble in our relationship.

Continuous – (to be) LENDING
A: “Can you show me your new car?”
B: “It’s not here now. I’m lending it to my brother for the weekend.”

Be sure to watch the video version of this post to review the grammar and improve your English listening skills. The video is at the end of this post.

Lend and Borrow – grammar

At the top of this post, we used two example sentences. Both examples are questions.

Can I borrow…?
Can you lend…?

We can offer to LEND something to someone but we can’t offer to BORROW something.

“I can lend you some money if you need it.”
“I can lend you my car while yours is getting fixed.”

Idioms with BORROW and LEND

On borrowed time

This expression can be used a few ways, the main feeling is that a current situation will not last much longer. It will come to a sudden end.

“People are unhappy with the Prime Minister, he is sure to be voted out in the coming election. He and his party are on borrowed time now.”

Be living on borrowed time

My grandfather suffered a second heart attack this week. He is living on borrowed time right now so the family is preparing for the inevitable. 

inevitable adjective – that you cannot avoid or prevent

Disease and accidents can happen at any time. It’s important to enjoy your life and live every day like it has meaning, we are all living on borrowed time.

Lend a hand

This is a common expression that means to help someone.

A: The party was fun but now the house is a mess!
B: Don’t worry, we can lend a hand. Your house will clean in no time.

A typhoon affected the 2019 World Cup rugby tournament in Japan. Canada’s final game was canceled, but the team lent a hand to clean up the area hit by the storm. 

Give a hand is also used – give will be followed by a subject.

Don’t worry, we can give you a hand. Your house will clean in no time.

Canada’s national rugby team gave the city a hand to clean up the affected areas.

Affect effect link

Lend and borrow - meaning

Lend and Borrow conclusion

So if you’re not sure how to say your sentence just replace borrow with get and see if it sounds correct. If you’re not sure which subject to use just replace lend with give and see if it sounds natural. If it does, you’re using lend and borrow correctly!

LEND and BORROW

Do you want even MORE English? Sign up for your FREE English newsletter and get awesome English PDFs right in your inbox  Click the link here to learn more.

Click to JOIN

Check out these other great blog posts!

Comments 1

  1. Pingback: Verb and noun pairs with examples (audio+PDF) - World English Blog

Leave a Reply