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Understanding Lend, Loan, Lent, and Loaned

Here are four words that sound similar and are often confused: loan, loaned, lend, lent. 

Proper use of “loan”

Loan is usually used as a noun. It means an amount of money that will be paid back with interest. It is something given for temporary use. 

Maybe it will help to see the word “loan” used as a noun in some example sentences:

  • They took out a loan to purchase their dream house.
  • If the bank doesn’t give you a loan, maybe a friend will let you borrow some money.
  • Thanks for loaning me your car today.

However, loan can also be used as a verb. It can replace lend to mean giving something for temporary use on condition of payment (often with interest). Loan is more common in American English, while lend is usually seen more in British English. In American English, lend is only used in reference to borrowing money with interest. 

Loan is only used literally. If you are referring to something figuratively, then lend is the correct verb. For example, there is the popular phrase: “lend a hand.” It is incorrect to say, “loan a hand.” 

Here are some correct examples of loan used as a verb:

  • She begged him to loan her some money.
  • Will you loan me your car so I can get to work?

“Lend” vs. “Loan”

Sometimes lend can be used as a substitute for loan in verb form. However, be careful to remember that lend is not used as a noun. For example, it is incorrect to say, “He took out a lend for the house.” 

Loan is closely tied to financial transactions (for example: “online title loans,” but lend is not. It is possible to lend physical objects as well as intangible concepts. 

  • She will lend me her scooter tomorrow. 
  • Will you lend me a sweater? 
  • Please lend me a hand with this box.
  • The decorations lend the room a festive air. 

“Lent” vs. “Loaned”

Lent is the past tense of the verb to lend

  • She lent me her notes, and I forgot to return them.
  • The last time I lent him my car, it came back broken.
  • No one lent her a hand during the move. 

The past tense of to loan is loaned.

  • She loaned me a pen.
  • If you had loaned me the money, I’d have a car by now.
  • When I loaned her my jewelry, I had no idea it would be stolen.

Hopefully, this clears up any confusion between these four similar words!


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By Patrice Riley

Patrice Riley is the pen name of Dr. Deborah Riley. She is a retired English professor that enjoys grammar, literature, and all things writing.

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