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If you are applying for a loan from the bank, you will want to ensure that your writing is impeccably professional. Proper word choice is an important part of formal writing.

English has many words that refer to the borrowing of goods and money. Two of the most common words that apply to this context are loan and lend. Do they mean the same thing? Or, are there specific circumstances in which one or the other is more appropriate?

Continue reading for an explanation of the differences between these two words.

When to Use Loan

IELTS score improvement loan noun

What does loan mean? Loan is a noun that means something that one lends, with the expectation that will be returned.

  • I asked the bank for a loan to start a bakery, but I did not have any collateral.
  • “What will happen if I cannot repay my student loan?” the freshman asked.
  • “Consider the motorcycle a long-term loan,” said Chetan. “Keep it safe for me while I’m away.”

To see if loan can be a verb, continue reading.

When to Use Lend

IELTS score improvement lend verb

What does lend mean? Lend is a verb that means to grant someone the use of something with the expectation that it will be returned.

Here are some example sentences,

  • “I would lend Balu my tools, because I know that he will return them,” said Govind.
  • If you lend money to your family members, be prepared for subsequent conversations about why they haven’t given it back yet.
  • You should never lend money that you do not have.

Lend is also used figuratively to mean to suggest or to add, especially in reference to appearances or qualities.

For example,

  • Wearing an elegant watch can lend a touch of formality to your appearance.
  • Experience with death does not lend wisdom to physicians any more than to undertakers.

In this figurative sense, lend, and only lend, is the correct choice.

Lend vs. Loan: Key Differences

IELTS score improvement lend loan

The confusion between these two words is whether or not loan can be used as a verb.

In strict usage, loan is the noun, and lend is the verb.

In other words, I apply for a loan from a bank. The bank then lends me the money.

Style guides differ on whether or not loan can be used as a verb.

Ultimately, loan is on its way to becoming fully accepted as a verb—save the figurative sense (see below). But, in the meantime, it would be wise to adhere to the traditional distinctions between lend and loan—at least in your professional writing.

IELTS score improvement loan verb

One last note: as was mentioned in the above section, the figurative sense of lend cannot be substituted with the verb loan.

To take our example,

  • Experience with death does not lend wisdom to physicians any more than to undertakers.

-cannot become-

  • Experience with death does not loan wisdom to physicians any more than to undertakers.

Trick to Remember the Difference

Lend and loan refer to similar concepts. However, in strict usage, lend is a verb, whereas loan is a noun.

To help you remember this, remember that lend is spelled with the letter E, like the word verb. Likewise, loan is spelled with the letter O, like noun.


Is it lend or loan? Lend and loan refer to similar concepts, but they are different parts of speech.

  • Lend is a verb.
  • Loan is a noun.

Although loan sometimes appears as a verb, too, this usage is not yet fully accepted. In formal writing, you should use loan only as a noun.

Since lend and verb are both spelled with the letter E, and loan and noun are both spelled with the letter O, you should have no trouble remember when to use each of these words.

Remember, despite common mistakes, these words are not interchangeable. Be sure to check this site any time you have a question about other commonly misused words.

This daily series is an outcome of Sahasriya of the top IELTS course designed and ensuring IELTS score improvement students benefit. These vital tips ensures a student’s aspiration with Sahasriya is the most effective which is what hundreds of students benefit from everyday.

About Govind Desikan

AvatarGovind, a master of English language has taken to sharing his experience on English language and focus specifically on finer inputs on English language, IELTS and PTE exams through his posts here.

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