Difference Wiki

Lend vs. Borrow: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on November 13, 2023
Lend means to give something temporarily; borrow means to take something temporarily.

Key Differences

Lend implies providing something to another party, while borrow involves receiving something from another party. When you lend, you are the giver; when you borrow, you are the receiver.
The action of lend is from the perspective of the owner, whereas borrow is from the perspective of the user. You lend your book to a friend; your friend borrows the book from you.
Lend often indicates a generosity or helpfulness, while borrow can imply a need or desire from the borrower. One lends a hand in a time of need; one borrows money in times of financial difficulty.
In lending, the emphasis is on the act of giving, while in borrowing, the emphasis is on the act of taking. Libraries lend books to patrons; patrons borrow books from libraries.
Lend often carries an expectation of return, whereas borrow carries the responsibility of return. You lend with the expectation of getting back; you borrow with the responsibility of returning.

Comparison Chart


Giving temporarily.
Taking temporarily.


From the owner.
From the user.


Indicates generosity/helpfulness.
Implies need/desire from borrower.


On the act of giving.
On the act of taking.


Expectation of return.
Responsibility of return.

Lend and Borrow Definitions


To provide assistance.
I'll lend a hand with the project.


To receive something with the intention to return.
I need to borrow some sugar from the neighbor.


To give something for temporary use.
Can you lend me your pen?


To take something for temporary use.
May I borrow your bike?


To grant the temporary use of money.
Banks lend money at interest.


To adopt ideas or practices from others.
English borrows words from many languages.


To contribute or add to.
The sunset lends a magical feel to the evening.


To use something belonging to another.
Can I borrow your coat for the evening?


To allow the use of one's possession.
I lend my car to my brother on weekends.


To take money with the promise to repay.
She borrowed a loan for her education.


To give or allow the use of temporarily on the condition that the same or its equivalent will be returned.


To obtain or receive (something) on loan with the promise or understanding of returning it or its equivalent.


To provide (money) temporarily on condition that the amount borrowed be returned, usually with an interest fee.


To adopt or use as one's own
I borrowed your good idea.


Can I use lend in a financial context?

Yes, lend is often used in financial contexts, like banks lending money.

Can lend and borrow be used interchangeably?

No, they have different perspectives: lend is to give, borrow is to take.

Is it correct to say "lend from"?

No, the correct phrase is "borrow from".

Can lend be used metaphorically?

Yes, like "lend an ear" meaning to listen attentively.

Is borrow only for physical items?

No, borrow can also refer to ideas or practices.

Is it possible to lend something permanently?

No, lend implies temporary use. Giving permanently would be a gift.

Does borrow imply consent from the owner?

Yes, borrowing typically involves the owner’s permission.

Can lend be used in literary works?

Yes, often used metaphorically or symbolically.

Is borrow a verb?

Yes, borrow is a verb.

Can you lend time?

Yes, it means to offer your time for something temporarily.

Does borrow always involve physical items?

No, it can also involve non-physical things like ideas.

Is it correct to say "borrow me your book"?

No, the correct phrase is "lend me your book" or "let me borrow your book".

Can organizations lend items?

Yes, organizations like libraries lend items to patrons.

Does borrow always imply returning the item?

Generally, yes, borrow implies the intention to return.

Can borrow imply a sense of urgency?

Sometimes, it can imply a need or urgency from the borrower.

Is borrow used in official documents?

Yes, especially in financial contexts like loans.

Can I lend my skills?

Yes, it means to offer your skills for a purpose temporarily.

Can lend have a negative connotation?

Rarely, it’s usually seen as helpful or generous.

Is borrow a formal term?

It can be used in both formal and informal contexts.

Can lend be used in legal terms?

Yes, like lending money with a formal agreement.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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