29/5/18 The Difference between Loan and Lend

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.

  • Loan is a noun that means something that one lends, with the expectation that will be returned.
  • Lend is a verb that means to grant someone the use of something with the expectation that it will be returned.

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

Garner’s Modern American English and The Chicago Manual of Style state that loan can only be used as a verb when dealing with money (as distinguished from the lending of things, cars, plates, books, etc.).

Examples:

  • The bank would not loan me the money.
  • The bank would not lend me the money.

In this case, both are accepted.

In other cases, however, the traditional rules would apply.

Will you lend me your car?

Not: Will you loan me your car?

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