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Write the Word: Loan vs. Borrow

Despite the way “loan” and “borrow” often are used, they have different meanings and can’t be used interchangeably.

Here’s an easy way to remember the difference: “Borrow” means to take, and “loan” means to give.

More specifically, “borrow” is using something belonging to someone else with the intention of returning it. “Loan” can be a noun, such as a sum of money that you must pay back with interest, or a verb, the act of lending something to someone.

What that means is you cannot say you are “borrowing” something to someone. You are “loaning” it to him or her. For example, “I will loan you my bike for the day.” Another way to say that is: “I will lend you my bike for the day.” If using “loan” as a noun, you might say, “I need a loan to pay my college tuition.”

Another way to think of “borrow” is that the person receiving an item borrows it. For example: “Can I borrow some money from you?” You hope the response is, “Yes, I will loan you some money.”

, information specialist, (701) 231-5391


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