Saturday, March 9, 2013

To loan or to lend?

For a long time, I've been wondering about when I should use loan as a verb rather than lend.  I thought there were actual grammar rules for this, but it turns out it's one of those British/American differences again!  I don't know how many times that has confused me over the years.

In American English, loan and lend are used interchangeably as a verb, but not in British English.

Now, you may wonder what this means for Canadian English.  Because our English tends to be a mixture of American and British English, both forms are very likely as acceptable in Canadian English as they are in American English.

Personally, now that I know the difference, I think I'm going to use loan as a noun only and lend as the verb because I feel like it's less confusing that way.


  1. While both are in use in America, it is my strong belief that it's because Americans tend to be too lazy speaking "American", as they call it, to differentiate between the two. Not unlike the French considering Quebec French to be amusingly quaint but not standard French, Americans tend not always to speak standard English ("to boldly go" rather than "to go boldly" would be another example of non-standard English commonly used by Americans and now increasingly by Canadians). I admit that I'm open to being called a snob here but I use the word "loan" as a noun and "lend" as a verb if for no other reason than to differentiate myself from those in the lower half of the continent.

    1. I often think it's a lack of good education about language and writing that causes these situations to happen. It allows for laziness because no one is correcting, and there comes a point when people no longer know it isn't correct. Common usage is what then makes it okay. Because I hadn't know the difference in the past, I haven't developed a consistent habit of using loan as a noun and lend as a verb, but I'm working on that! I think in my case, my commitment to sticking to one set of language practices has more to do with having a more streamlined standard than anything. Canadian English, unfortunately, allows for both sets of spellings and grammar, and this seems to create a lot of confusion in the general population. So I decided personally that I'd have to choose either British or American English, and since there are more aspects to British English I prefer, I'm sticking with it!