Lend and Borrow

In this entry we will see the “Lend” and “Borrow” case, how they are the two sides of the same event.

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We live in borrowed time so I ask you to lend me your eyes for a little while. “Lend” and “Borrow” are two verbs that present the same event from the point of view of its two agents and this may become problematic for Spanish speakers, but things could be easier if we understand that “Lend” –to give something to a person to get it back later on- can be translated as “Prestar”, and “Borrow” –to receive something from someone in order to give it back at a later time- can be translated as “Tomar prestado”.

Remember this example: a person who wants to buy a house needs to borrow money from the bank, and the bank lends money to its clients.

“Borrow” is accompanied by the preposition “from” in the following order:

 WHO NEEDS THE OBJECT + BORROW + OBJECT + FROM + WHO HAS THE OBJECT

I borrowed a pencil from my teacher to take the exam.

 

On the other hand, “Lend” is accompanied by the preposition “to” in the following order:

WHO HAS THE OBJECT + LEND + OBJECT + TO + WHO NEEDS THE OBJECT

The teacher lent a pencil to me to take the exam.

 

ALTERNATIVELY (and more popularly):

WHO HAS THE OBJECT + LEND + WHO NEEDS THE OBJECT + OBJECT

The teacher lent me a pencil to take the exam.

(Notice that this form doesn’t use the preposition “to”)

 

In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet (1601), Polonius, the lord Chamberlain, gives his son Laertes a tirade of advice since he is going back to France. Polonius is a mean and distrusting man, therefore the recommendation he gives regarding his son finances opposes generosity:

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be,

For loan oft loses itself and friend,

And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry”.

Act I, scene III

Don’t heed this advice, or else the whole world of credit systems would collapse. Hmm, maybe not such a bad idea.

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