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 [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
Can I get $10.00?
*Note this is one specific use of the verb get – to receive something
Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary lists 27 uses for 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)
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
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 [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
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)
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.
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!