• Alex

Borrow vs. Lend: Video + EXPANDED explanation

In my latest beginner English video, I look at the difference between two very common words: borrow and lend. I also teach students how to avoid a very common mistake. You can watch the video here:

As I mention in the video, the two most common request structures English speakers use with these verbs are:


BORROW: Could I borrow + the object

LEND: Could you lend me + the object


(Note: There are a few other request structures in English, such as "May I..." and "Would you mind...," but for the purpose of simplicity, I will not cover those here.)


Note these examples:


"Could I borrow your phone?"

"Could you lend me your eraser?"

"Could I borrow five dollars?"

"Could you lend me your car for tonight?"


The person who borrows receives the object. The person who lends gives the object. This is why "Could you borrow me your pencil?" is incorrect.


It is important to remember that borrow and lend are transitive verbs. This means they must be followed by an object. Here are a few more examples to make this clear:


"Could I borrow that?"

"Could I borrow one of those?"

"Could I borrow this?"

"Could you lend me one?"

"Could you lend me that?"

"Could you lend me two of those?"


Now you know how to ask to borrow something. But how can you use these verbs in declarative statements? I'm glad you asked! I hope the examples below are helpful in this regard.


(Note: The past of "borrow" is "borrowed," and the past of "lend" is "lent.")


"Is that yours?" "No, I'm just borrowing it from my brother."


"I lent my textbook to Gregor." (also: "I lent Gregor my textbook.")


"We borrowed four books from the library yesterday."


"Do you need a cell phone charger? Here! You can borrow mine."


"Where are your skates?" "I lent them to my cousin." (or: "My cousin borrowed them.")


"I borrowed it from my uncle." (also: "My uncle lent it to me" or "My uncle let me borrow it.")


"Thanks for lending me your laptop."


"You could borrow mine if you'd like."


"I'm going to lend it to my stepdad."


Finally, in the case of lend, avoid these mistakes with object pronouns:


Incorrect: "I lent my brother them."

Correct: "I lent them to my brother."


Incorrect: "I'm going to lend Roberta it."

Correct: "I'm going to lend it to Roberta."


To practice using these verbs, write a series of original examples in the comments below, and make sure to do the quiz on EngVid.com. Until next time, thanks for clicking, thanks for reading, and good luck with your studies!


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