This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.
Search BBC
BBC World Service
BBC BBC News BBC Sport BBC Weather BBC World Service Worldservice languages
spacer gif
You are in: Learning English > Grammar and Vocabulary > Learn It!
Learning English
spacer gif
learn it! title
'lend' or 'borrow'
borrowing some money

Omar Weli from Somalia asks:

How can I use the word owe when I lend someone some money. Do I say: 'I owe you 20 dollars' or do I say: 'You owe me 20 dollars?' The importance of my question is how do I use this word in both ways such as when I borrow some money from someone and also when I lend someone some money?

 

Roger replies:more questions

If you borrow something from somebody, you take it with their permission and promise to return it in due course, at the end of a limited period usually. If you borrow £5,000 from the bank, you will owe them £5,000, plus interest on the period of time you have borrowed if for.

Consider the following:

  • 'I borrowed five pounds from my brother and forgot to pay it back.'

  • 'I always buy the books I want to read, although I agree it would be cheaper to borrow them from the library.'

  • 'Many of his ideas are borrowed from other sources.'

If you lend somebody something, or lend something to somebody, then you give them something of yours for a limited period of time. If you lend someone some money, they will owe you the money.

Consider the following:

  • 'She lent her sister her car for the weekend.' (NB: verb + indirect object + direct object)

  • 'If you lend your coat to Philip, you’ll never see it again.' (NB: verb + direct object + indirect object)

  • 'If you can lend me a hand with these reports, we might finish them by suppertime.'

BBC copyright
 
Learning English | News English | Business English | Watch and Listen
 
Grammar and Vocabulary | Communicate | Quizzes | For teachers
 
Downloads | FAQ | Contact us