English grammar - lend and borrow

- - Lend and borrow


borrow something (from someone)
lend something to someone
lend someone something


  1. We use borrow to say that we take something temporarily with the intention of returning it.
    • Can I borrow your car?
    • She borrowed $100 from her father.
  2. We use lend to say that we give something temporarily with the intention of having it returned.
    • Can you lend me your car?
    • Her father lent her $100.
    • Her father lent $100 to his daughter.

Ideas for teaching lend and borrow

How do you teach lend and borrow? Add your idea ยป

I make a list of objects on the board and ask students if they would be prepared to lend them to someone special, to someone they don't know very well, or if they wouldn't ever lend the object to anyone. Give reasons.

Your toothbrush
Your umbrella
A book you read and loved
Your mobile phone
Your car
Your boyfriend (joke!)
Your notes on a topic for exam preparation (they are the result of many hours of hard work!)
Your camera
Your favourite outfit

I use would you...? and " questions. Students are asked to complete the structure using borrow and lend + noun, then take turns using the structures with a partner. After this, I get students to generate the rule for using borrow and lend i.e. borrow - to take, lend - to give.

I normally tell students to write down a few sentences using the lend and borrow. After correction of the sentences, I give them a situation they have to roleplay. Try giving them awkward situations. For example, reasons why they can't lend something to another student!

Choose a list of objects, such as money, hairbrush, a car, a camera, etc. Put students in groups and have them discuss which objects they would feel comfortable borrowing and from whom. Then have them talk about which objects they would be willing to lend and to whom. Example: I would only borrow money from my family, but I would lend money to a good friend.

Give students 3-5 small cards with a picture of a different object on each card. Choose objects that different students may or may not want, such as a TV, an Ipod, a bike, a dog, a lizard, a set of Dickens. Students have 5 minutes to negotiate with others to get rid of objects they don't want and get the things they do want. Example: I'll lend you my electronic dictionary if I can borrow your Ipod. I will lend you my Ipod if I can borrow your electronic dictionary and your skateboard.

The L in lend can be remembered as L for lose. So if you lend something to someone, you're losing it for that period of time.

The B in borrow can be remembered as B for bargain. So if you receive something from someone, you're the one getting a something (a bargain!), and is thus borrowing it from said person.

Jack lends a book to Jill, but Jill borrows a book from Jack.
Len du Randt

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