What’s the Difference: Lend vs. Borrow

Lend and borrow don’t have the same meaning although they can be used to express the same idea. For this reason, students find these two verbs very confusing. Let’s take a look.


The rich guy has extra cash.


The poor guy has no extra cash.

  • The rich guy lends money to the poor guy. The poor guy borrows money from the rich guy.
  • If he borrows something, it isn’t a gift. He must return it.
  • If you have something, you can lend it. If you lack something, you can borrow it.
Asking to borrow something:

If you want to borrow something, you can ask:

  • Can I borrow [….]?
    • Can I borrow $100?
  • Can you lend me […]?
    • Can you lend me $100?

A carton of white eggs with one egg used.

The person with eggs can lend one.

Empty Cardboard Egg Carton Shot From End

The person who needs an egg can borrow one.

The eggless person asks:
  • Hey, can I please borrow some eggs? I’ll share some of what I am cooking.
His eggy neighbor says:
  • Sure. How many do you want to borrow? I can lend as many as you need.

Practice: Fill in the blanks with the word borrow or lend. (Answers below)

  1. I forgot my phone charger at home. You have one. Can I ___________________ yours?
  1. I have two pencils, but I only need one. You can _________________ one of mine.
  1. I want to go for a bike ride, but I don’t have a bike. You have one. Can you ________________ it to me?
  1. You have a car, but I don’t. I’m moving this weekend. Can I _________________ your car for a couple of hours while I move?
  1. It’s raining. You’re not going outside right now, but I am. Can you ____________________ me your umbrella?
  1. I really like that bracelet. Can I ____________________ it sometime?
  1. I have an extra fan. I can _____________ it to you if you want.


  1. borrow
  2. borrow
  3. lend
  4. borrow
  5. lend
  6. borrow
  7. lend