ESL – Part 1: the difference between ‘ borrow ‘ and ‘ lend ‘

6 September

Part 1: Lend or borrow?


Lend means to give something to someone for a short time, expecting that you will get it back. The past simple and the -ed form are lent:

I never lend my CDs to anyone.

lent Gary £30. (I expect that Gary will return this to me)

Borrow is a regular verb meaning to receive something from someone, intending to give it back after a short time:

Could I borrow your pen for a minute, please?

Laura used to borrow money from me all the time.

Typical error

When you give something, you lend it; when you get or receive something, you borrow it:

Can I borrow your dictionary?    Not: Can I lend your dictionary?


Complete each of the sentences below with the correct form of either lend or borrow, as specified.
ex: It was so loud in there that I couldn’t hear (lend/borrow) a thing.

1. He wanted to  (lend/borrow) five dollars.

2. I couldn’t  (lend/borrow) him the money.

3. Banks  (lend/borrow) money to their clients all the time.

4. You should never  (lend/borrow) more than you can pay back.

5. I  (lent/borrowed) these books from the library.

6. He doesn’t like  (lending/borrowing) money to anyone.

7. Would you like me to (lend/borrow) you my jacket?

8. A good way to lose a friend is to  (lend/borrow) him money.

9. You can  (lend/borrow) my old phone for a couple of weeks.

10. Who did you  (lend/borrow) the money from?

(answers on the 9 September)

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