Give, take, borrow, and lend are all extremely useful verbs in English. This post teaches all four words with examples and illustrations!

Give and Take

The meaning is simple. I have something, and I want you to have it so I put it in your hand. I give it to you. You take it from me. 

But the grammar is a little more difficult. Look at the sentences in the picture:

In the first sentence, Juana is giving Jim some aspirin. The word give is tricky because can have two objects, a person and a thing. The objects here are Jim  and some aspirin. The thing that you give, aspirin, is called the  direct object. The person who you give it to, the one who receives the action, is called the indirect object, is Jim.

We can put the indirect object just after the verb or at the end of the sentence, using to. Look at the two sentences:

Juana is giving Jim some aspirin.

Juana is giving some aspirin to Jim.

Take is much simpler. It doesn't really have an indirect object, but you can use the preposition from to indicate the person who is giving, like this:

Jim is taking some aspirin from Juana.


Borrow and Lend

Let's start with borrow. Borrow is like take, but when you borrow something, you give it back later. I can borrow your pencil now, and give it back to you when I am finished. There are two common ways to use borrow.  The first works just like take:

Carlo is taking a pen from Kate.

Carlo is borrowing a pen from Kate.

Borrow and Lend English Verbs

Notice the preposition from. A person borrows a thing from another person. Another way to use from is with the possessive form. The pen belongs to Kate. It is Kate's pen. So we can also simply say:

Carlo is borrowing Kate's pen.

Many people make mistakes with borrow. Many people say Please borrow me a pen. But we can not say borrow a person! The word here is lend. Similarly, lend is like give , but when you lend something, you take it back later. I can lend you my car now, and you can give it back to me tomorrow. 

Carlo is giving Kate his pen.

Carlo is lending Kate his pen.

We can also move the indirect object (Kate) to the end of the sentence with both lend and give :

Carlo is giving his pen to Kate.

Carlo is lending his pen to Kate.


What you can say

In daily life, the useful sentences you may want to use are these: 

May I borrow your __?

Could you lend me a __?

Can you borrow me a pen.


check out these other free grammar resources:

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