Difference between Lend and Borrow

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  • Post last modified:06/07/2021
  • Post category:Real English
  • Reading time:9 mins read

Let’s talk about the difference between Lend and Borrow.

Do you think that English is a hard language to learn? Well, English confusing words don’t make it very easy for you, dear ESL students.

Lend vs Borrow. Borrow vs Lend. Are you confused about when and how to use them in English?

I know, I know, many of my students are confused. And this is exactly why I’ve decided to create a video lesson. So hopefully by the end of it, you will know exactly what is the difference between Lend and Borrow. But you have to watch it to the end!

And for those of you, my dear students, who prefer reading to watching, there is a detailed transcript below. (I personally hate watching any videos when I am on the bus.)

Do make your life easier and find out the difference between Miss and Lose here.

Difference between Lend and Borrow

Hi there

I’m Harry and welcome back to my English grammar lessons and we’re going to talk to you about another English expression. And today what we’re going to actually talk about is the difference and the confusion between the words BORROW and LEND.

Intermediate to Advanced English Marathon

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

INSANITY: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

So many of my students and people out there learning English get them confused. When do we borrow and when do we lend? 

There’s actually an old English expression* which goes:

Never a borrower or lender be

This really means you should never borrow money and you should never lend money. If you don’t do either those things actually the world is going to be pretty good for you.

So how do we use them?

When we BORROW something, we take or we get something from somebody.

Okay. We take or we get.

Difference between Lend and Borrow

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And when we LEND, we give to somebody. Okay. But not permanently. We give it to them for a short period of time and then we expect to get it back or we expect them to return it to us.

A very simple example is when you go to the bank you want some money to buy a car. You don’t have the money in your account and the bank will be prepared to lend you the money.

They will give you the money to buy the car.

And you will borrow the money from the bank. You will take it from them and you go off and you buy the car and you’re a happy camper. Okay. 

But of course, you have to return the money. You have to pay it back.

So money that you borrow you must pay back to the bank.

And the money that they have lent to you – that’s the past participial – that they have lent to you, they expect you to return it.

Okay. With interest of course.

Difference between Lend and Borrow

So that’s a simple situation in the bank of borrowing and lending.

If you go to the library – less expensive. You won’t get a car loan, of course, but you’ll get books.

So you go to the library and you get some books. So you borrow books from the library. Okay. You take one or two books, you receive them and you promise to return them in a few days or a few weeks.

So that the library lends you the books. You borrow them. You read them. You return them and take them back. Okay.

Difference between Lend and Borrow

Or with brothers and sisters.

Brothers and sisters like to lend and borrow things.

Sister has all the good records. At least when I was young, my sister had all the good records. And we used to sneak into her room and we’d take some of the records to play them on the record player. Those are the old old days. And we would borrow them. Okay. 

So my sister would come in and say: ‘Where are my records? Where’s my record?’ 

‘I only borrowed them. Don’t worry, I’ll give them back when I’m finished.’ 

So she lent them to us (well, sort of). We took them and borrowed them and then we returned them. Okay.

So you might have a friend that has something that you need. A bicycle, for example. And you need a bicycle to go on a cycle with your friends. You don’t have a bike of your own so you say to your friend:

‘Could I borrow your bike for the weekend? I want to go on a cycling tour with my friends. I don’t have my own bike. It’s down at home and I don’t have time to come and get it. But you know, I’d like to borrow yours. I look after it and I return it when I’m finished.’

‘Yeah, no problem, I lend it to you. I’m not using it. Just take it when you need it.’ 


So borrowing and lending. 

Neither a borrower or lender be.


Talk to you again soon and remember you can join me on the website www.englishlessonviaskype.com

Remember, you’ll get a link on those to some of our wonderful grammar courses

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Buy them today and improve your English and I’ll talk to you again soon.

*Apologies, I got slightly confused the first time I mentioned this phrase. 

The correct saying is from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, 1602: 

Neither a borrower nor a lender be; 
For loan oft loses both itself and friend, 
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.

More Information

For more information on English Phrasal Verbs, English Collocations and English Idioms, check out the following links:

7 Phrasal Verbs with WORK

English Food Phrases and Idioms

Useful Collocations with WORD

English Idioms about Animals

Lend vs Borrow - take a quiz

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