“Friends, Romans, countrymen, borrow lend me your ears”


Borrow Lend me your attention and let me share this gaffe on a newspaper website that my friend Fred pointed out:

The day before, his sister Dolly Wambach, of Georgetown, Minn., and family spent about 12 hours loading the tops into a trailer borrowed to him by friend Shawn Olson for the transport.

This is a common error in the Midwest, especially in conversation, but borrow and loan or lend are not synonyms. To borrow means “to receive something with the promise to return it,” while to lend or to loan mean “to give something on condition that it will be returned.”

In other words, it’s the difference between give and receiving. I can give or lend something to you, and I can borrow or receive something from you.

Here’s a usage oddity: people often use borrow in the place of lend or loan, but I’ve never heard someone make the mistake the other way around.

[Note: the Forum corrected the error before printing it in the newspaper, and have since corrected the story on their website.]

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This entry was posted in Grammar, Uncategorized, Usage and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to “Friends, Romans, countrymen, borrow lend me your ears”

  1. wolfy says:

    Great blog

  2. Lars Walker says:

    I wonder if this problem relates to the fact that, in Scandinavian languages, the two words are the same. In Norwegian, it’s spelled “lån,” (pronounced “loan.” But then why do we make “borrow” do the double duty, rather than “loan”?).

  3. teachfight says:

    In the UK, lend is often (mistakenly) used in place of borrow. ‘Can I lend a pen?’, said by someone wanting to borrow one. Possible confusion with the imperative ‘lend me a pen’.

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