Rated 4.8/5 by parents & students

Grammar Clinic: The REAL difference between BORROW and LEND

Mixing up the words “borrow” and “lend” can be a common confusion. One reason this happens is because lend and borrow have the same basic meaning, but are used for different “directions” in English.

Lend: GIVE something to someone on the understanding that the person will return what is being given.

Borrow: TAKE and use (something belonging to someone else) with the intention of returning it.

Remember: Lend shows that something is (temporarily) given to another person. Borrow shows that something is (temporarily) taken from another person.

Special Notes

1. Both lend and borrow are “one time” verbs: they can be used in simple tenses, but not perfect tenses (when the perfect tense has a time phrase with since to show that an action continued). Both lend and borrow can be used in perfect tenses without time phrases, however:

Wrong: *I’ve lent him the money since last Tuesday.

Right: I’ve lent him the money

Wrong: *I’ve borrowed Bill’s car since this morning.

Right: I’ve borrowed Bill’s car.

2. Lend and borrow can be used with FOR. FOR shows when the borrowed item is expected to be returned:

I’ve lent Busola N100 for two weeks. (I expect Busola to return the N100 after two weeks.)

I’ve borrowed Busola’s car for a few hours. (Busola expects me to return her car after a few hours.)

3. Have is also commonly used in situations involving lend and borrow:

I lent Busola some money a week ago.

Busola borrowed some money a week ago.

I’ve lent Busola some money.

Busola has borrowed some money from me.

Busola has had the money for a week.

I borrowed Busola’s car this morning.

Busola lent me his car this morning.

I’ve borrowed Busola’s car.

Busola has lent me her car.

I’ve had Busola’s car since this morning.

6 thoughts on “Grammar Clinic: The REAL difference between BORROW and LEND”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top