Borrow vs. lend vs. loan

If only I could collect a dime each time these three words were mixed up!

Borrow means to take something with the intention of returning it: Jane asked Jim if she could borrow his pen.

Lend means to grant permission to someone for taking something, with the understanding that it will be returned: Jim told Jane he would lend her his pen.

Loan means to turn over something to someone for their temporary use, usually with the expectation that interest will be paid: The bank would not loan money to Jim so he could start an ink pen company.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.