borrow / lend / loan / owe

To lend or loan is to GIVE something to a person temporarily, and to borrow is to RECEIVE something temporarily (and you will need to give it back).

If Maria is in class and she doesn’t have a pencil, she could ask her friend Daniel:

  • “Could I borrow a pencil?”
  • Or: “Could you lend/loan me a pencil?”

    Daniel lends/loans her the pencil; Maria has borrowed a pencil from Daniel. And after she’s done using it, she’ll give it back.

    Lend/loan is often used with to:

  • Daniel lent/loaned his pencil to Maria.
  • Or: Daniel lent/loaned Maria his pencil.

    Borrow is often used with from:

  • Maria borrowed a pencil from Daniel.

    Lend/loan and borrow can also be used for money: Imagine you don’t have enough money to buy a car, but you get $10,000 from the bank. You have to pay the money back later.

  • The bank lent/loaned me $10,000.
  • I borrowed $10,000 from the bank.

    The amount of money is also called a loan (noun). Many people take out student loans to help pay for their education at university.

    Now you owe the bank $10,000. “Owe” means you have the obligation to return something like money, an object, or a favor.

    Avoid this common error! If you want to use your friend’s car for the weekend, say:

  • “Could I borrow your car?” = OK
  • “Could you lend me your car?” = OK
  • “Could you borrow me your car?”