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English Grammar Tips - 'Lend' and 'Borrow'

English Grammar Tips - 'Lend' and 'Borrow'

How to use the verbs ‘lend’ and ‘borrow

We’ve been asked several times now to write a blog on the differences between the verbs ‘lend’ and ‘borrow’, so it’s now time to put an end to the mystery! If you’re a tutor or an overseas nanny or governess, this is a useful part of English that you can help your students to understand.

It’s true that these two verbs are similar in meaning; this is why they are so commonly confused by non-native speakers of English (and sometimes even by native speakers!)

However, the two verbs have different ‘directions’.


Lend means to give something to someone for a short amount of time, expecting to get it back. When you lend something, you are allowing someone to use something on the condition they will return it.


Lend is an irregular verb, The verb forms are: 

-lend (present tense)

-lending (present participle)

-lent (past tense/ past participle)


Examples of how to use ‘lend’:

I never lend my stationery to my classmates.

I lent Stephanie my phone. (expecting her to return it)



Borrow means to get something from someone, with the intention of giving it back after a short while.


As a regular verb, the verb forms are:

-borrow (present tense)

-borrowing (present participle)

-borrowed (past tense)


Examples of how to use ‘borrow’:

Could I borrow your lawn mower, please?

Pierre used to borrow my clothes every night!


‘Can I borrow your book?’


In summary:

When you give something, you lend it; when you get/ receive something, you borrow it.


If you’re still unsure about using these two verbs, there is a great video on how to use them here:

Good luck!

We hope you enjoy reading our blog! Please comment and share, and if you would like to find out more about common English language errors made by non-native speakers please click here:

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