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"Lend" or "Borrow"

It is common for certain non-native speakers of English to use the word “lend” and “borrow” interchangeably. Though the meaning is the same, their usage in a sentence is actually different.

Lend” is used with the preposition “to

Borrow” is used with the preposition “from


  1. I’m lending this book to you for a week. (√)
  2. I borrowed some money from my father. (√)
  3. Please lend (to) me a few dollars. (√)
  4. You may borrow a few dollars from me. (√)
  5. Please borrow me a few dollars. (X)

In Sentence #3, the preposition “to” is omitted when there is a pronoun immediately after the word “lend“.

Sentence #5 is commonly uttered by some students, but is wrong because it doesn’t make sense. Firstly, the preposition “from”  is missing. Secondly, you cannot borrow a human. You can only borrow something from someone.

Here’s a simple formula to help you remember the difference:

  • lend = giving out , lend TO
  • borrow = taking in , borrow FROM