The verbs “lend” and “borrow” are among the most commonly confused words in the English language. Why? Because they are often translated using just a single verb into other languages. To put it completely bluntly:
to borrow = to receive something from somebody
provided the thing in question is expected to be returned to its original owner later. A simple way to decide whether to use “lend” or “borrow” is to see whether the sentence would make sense if we used “give” or “receive” instead. For example:
Since you give, you lend, not borrow. Similarly:
“Would you please receive me your bicycle?” doesn’t make any sense, whereas “Would you please give me your bicycle?” is perfectly fine. An example of the opposite direction:
Again, “I went to the bank to receive some money” is a perfectly fine sentence. The other sentence is probably wrong, unless you are Bill Gates and the bank wants to borrow money from you.
To loan or not to loan
The word loan is a noun describing either the act of lending something or, in the case of money, the money itself, e.g.
In American English, “loan” can be used also as a verb synonymous to “lend” (mostly in connection with money):
However, you will probably get a few strange looks if you try to use “loan” as a verb synonymous to “lend” in Europe, so it is better to avoid it when addressing an international audience.