Loan and Lend

If your writing looks professional, so do you.

  • Nancy Tuten

    20 February 2017

    Loan and Lend

    Can you identify the correct use of loan or lend?

    1. We went to the bank to ask the manager to loan us $500,000.
    2. Sharon agreed to lend me a hand next weekend as I pack to move.
    3. If people want to remain friends, they should avoid loaning one another money.

    If you thought that loan in the first sentence and loaning in sentence 3 were wrong, you are not alone. However, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary explains that loan is “entirely standard as a verb” and has been for hundreds of years.

    We know, however, that many people insist on using loan only as a noun:

    • We went to the bank to ask the manager for a $500,000 loan.

    Technically, then, both sentences 1 and 3 are correct, but to play it safe, use the verb lend (and lending), rather than loan, since many readers are likely to regard the usage in sentences 1 and 3 as an error. Using the more universally accepted verb, therefore, we would write the sentences this way:

    • We went to the bank to ask the manager to lend us $500,000.
    • If people want to remain friends, they should avoid lending one another money.

    Webster’s goes on to note that we should always choose lend over loan when speaking figuratively, as in sentence 4 above and in this example: “When someone in our office has a personal problem, Marilyn is always willing to lend an ear.”

    TEST YOURSELF:

    Has the writer of these sentences made the best choices between loan and lend in professional contexts?

    1. My teenaged son has asked me to loan him money for new clothes.
    2. Stephanie knew that she had bills to pay, but she was reluctant to ask her parents to loan her money.
    ANSWERS
    1. lend
    2. lend

    Copyright 2001 Get It Write. Revised 2018.

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