End your confusion about borrowing and lending
This week, we’re responding to a question we received in an email from Tina. She writes:
I just want to know how to use the words “borrow” and “lend” in a situation. Is it correct to say, “Could you lend me a pen?” Or “Can I borrow your pen?” ” Thank you so much.
These two words are a source of trouble for many English learners. The reason? They have roughly the same meaning, but the action of each word goes in different directions.
“To borrow” means to take something from another person, knowing you will give it back.
“To lend” means to give something to another person who is hoping to get it back.
So the sentences you asked are both correct. Your choice of “borrowing” or “lending” depends on which direction is most important to you.
Imagine yourself in the middle of the picture. Everything that you “borrow” is moving towards you. The things you “lend” are leaving you.
Note that the Prepositions which often follow the verbs are different. we borrow of someone, but we lend To Someone.
Let’s say you and I go shopping, Tina. I have to sign my name on a receipt, but I don’t have a pen. So I ask you, “Can I borrow a pen?” »I chose« to borrow »because I think of the action as it concerns me. You’re a good friend, so you lend me the pen. I forget it’s yours and put it in my bag.
Later we meet a good friend and she asks for your email address. Looking in your bag, but – no pen! You think, “I loaned Jill my pen. And she didn’t return it to me. Now you think about the action that you made. So you can ask me, “Jill, do you remember that pen I loaned you?” I need it now. “
I feel bad that I forgot to return the pen. I say, “Sorry, Tina! I forgot I borrowed it. Here you are!”
Warning: personal pronouns like me, you, him and others never come after the verb “to borrow”, but it is okay to use them after “lend”, as in “Lend me a dollar for ice cream”.
Hope this helps you understand “lend” and “borrow”.
And it’s Ask a teacher!
I am Jill Robbins.
If you want to learn more about borrowing and lending, check out our episode of Everyday Grammar TV: Lend or borrow
Dr Jill Robbins wrote this story for Learn English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.
Do you have a question for the teacher? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the comments section.
Words in this story
preposition – not. a word used to show a relationship
Rules to remember:
When we use “borrow” in a sentence, we use the preposition “from”.
Andy borrowed a car of her friend Judy.
When we use “ready”, we use the preposition “to”.
Mario lent the computer To me.
Personal pronouns come directly after the verb “to lend”.
Did Linda lend you his telephone?
Now try this practice:
Which sentences are correct? If a sentence contains an error, edit it so that it is correct.
- Sarah always borrows her comb from me.
- I lent Ahmed a pencil yesterday.
- Can you lend me your umbrella?
- He wanted to borrow money from me.
- Do you want to borrow the coat?