Possession, giving and lending


All his possessions were destroyed in the terrible fire, [everything he owned; always plural in this meaning]
Don’t leave any of your belongings here; we’ve had a few thefts recently, [smaller things, e.g. bag, camera, coat; always plural]
Estate in the singular can mean a big area of private land and the buildings on it, or all of someone’s wealth upon death.
She owns a huge estate in Scotland, [land, etc.]
After his death, his estate was calculated at £3 million, [all his wealth]
Property (uncountable) is used in a general sense for houses, land, etc.
He’s only fourteen; he’s too young to own property.
A property (countable) is a building, e.g. house, office-block.
She’s just bought a very nice property near the town-centre.

Words for people connected with ownership

– The proprietor of this restaurant is a friend of mine, [used for shops, businesses etc. The owner would be less formal]
– The landlord/lady’s put the rent up. [owner of rented property]
– Do you own this house? No we’re just tenants, [we rent it]


– The river provides the village with water / provides water for the village, (or supplies)
– Would you like to contribute / donate something to the children’s hospital fund?
– Jakes Ltd. supplies our school with paper and other items, [often for ‘selling’ contexts]
– It gives me pleasure to present you with this clock from us all.
– The school restaurant caters for 500 people every day.
– That uncle of mine that died left £3,000 to a dogs’ home.
– When she died she donated all her books to the library, [for large gifts to institutions]
– You’ve been allocated room 24. Here’s your key.

Lending, etc.

– We’ve decided to hire/rent a car. Can you recommend a good car-hire/car-rental firm?
[rent and hire are both commonly used]
– We’d like to rent a flat in Oxford for six months, [not hire]
– We’ve hired the lecture-room for a day. [not rent; short, temporary arrangements]

Remember: when you lend, you give, when you borrow, you receive.

– That step-ladder you lent me last week, could I borrow it again?
– I’m trying to get a loan from the bank to buy a boat.