The difference between “lend” and “borrow”

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Not too long ago, my family and I were at our favourite restaurant to have our usual weekend brunch. The place is usually packed with customers, so sometimes it would take a few minutes or so to find an empty table.

As we were walking around, looking for a table for five, I overheard a mother asking her daughter: “Can I lend your phone?”

The correct question is actually: “Can I borrow your phone?”

I’m not being a grammar troll here, but I have come to realise that a lot of people, particularly Malaysians, often mistake “lend” with “borrow”.

In the Malay language, the word “pinjam” is used to mean both “lend” and “borrow”. So I understand how many can get this confused.

The next time you find yourself confused between “lend” and “borrow”, remember this.

“Lend” is the act of giving something to someone, expecting to get it back.

“Borrow” means to receive something from someone, with the intention of giving it back.

The mother wanted to receive the phone from her daughter and give it back afterwards. She wanted to borrow the phone.

Just remember:

Lend = give.

Borrow = receive.

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Hi there!

We’re Azimah, Amnah and Aisya from Malaysia. We created My English Matters as an online platform to help people improve their English.

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