Borrow or Lend: What’s the difference?

It’s easy to confuse these two terms. They are used when we give or take something that will be returned (Well, we hope it will!)

What's the difference between borrow and lend?

LEND = Give

To lend is to give someone something for a short time. Lend requires a direct pronoun (money, a phone, a sweater, etc.) and an indirect object pronoun (me, him, her, us, them, my friend, the students, etc.)

Notice that in each of these sentences, we can replace the word lend with the verb give-gave-given and it will have the same meaning.

  • I lent my friend $5000 so she could get a new apartment. (I gave…)
  • Could you lend me some money? (Could you give…)
  • Have you ever lent money to friends? And if so, do they always pay you back? (Have you ever given…)

BORROW = Take

Borrow means to take. It means you are asking to take something from someone and return it in the future. You can use the verb take-took-taken in the following sentences and have the same meaning.

  • My friend borrowed $5000 from me so she could move into a new apartment. (My friend took $5000…)
  • Could I borrow some money? (Could I take…)
  • She promised to pay back the money she had borrowed. (…the money she had taken.)

Remember, lend = give and borrow = take

Need a loan? Borrow some cash from a friend!
Need a loan?

When we borrow money from a person or a bank, it is called a loan.

Check out this classic episode of the TV sitcom Seinfeld to see how lending money to friends can sometimes be complicated…and very funny!

Jerry can lend you $5000.00!

Do you think Jerry will lend her the money? I’m sure he was happy that his friend Kramer was there to negotiate the deal!

Pay (someone) back = return money that was borrowed

When talking about borrowing money, we use the phrasal verb to pay back. This is a separable phrasal verb, meaning we often use an object noun or pronoun in the middle of the phrase.

  • When can she pay me back?
  • She shouldn’t borrow money from Jerry unless she is sure she can pay him back!

Give (something) back = return an item that was borrowed

When talking about borrowing a car, phone, or other items, we use the phrasal verb to give back.

  • Did she give your bike back to you after she borrowed it?
  • You borrowed my umbrella three months ago. Please give it back!

Now it’s your turn. Can you describe each photo below using both borrow and lend?

Thanks, dad!

Example: I borrowed my father’s credit card. My father lent me his credit card.

Write your answers in the comments below to see if you’ve got the hang of it. When you finish, lend this post to your friends to improve their English, too!

Too vs. So: What’s the difference?

TOO = A negative description

When something is not good, or you don’t like it, or you can’t use it, use too to describe it. When you use too in a sentence, it means that you are not happy, or there is a negative result.

  • The driver was going too fast. (He crashed his car and died.)
  • The food was too hot. (I couldn’t eat it, or I burned my mouth.)
  • The music was too loud. (I didn’t like it, or I couldn’t hear you.)
  • The child is too young to watch this movie. (He shouldn’t watch it because it is violent or sexual.)
too or so: what's the difference?
This photo is TOO small.

SO = A surprising or happy description

SO, on the other hand, is used to describe something that has a surprising or happy effect. Be careful not to use so to describe a noun.

So is only used for adjectives or adverbs. For nouns, use such.

  • The driver was going so fast! I think he is going to win the race!
  • The food was so delicious! (I really enjoyed it and want to eat more.)
  • The music was so beautiful! (I loved listening to it.)
  • The child is so young to be watching this movie! (I can’t believe he is watching the violent movie. I hope he doesn’t have nightmares!)
This photo makes me SO happy!

Very = Intensify the meaning

Very is different than so and too. It doesn’t show how YOU are feeling about it. Use very only to increase or intensify an adjective or adverb.

  • Water is cold… Ice is very cold.
  • Your parents are old… Your grandparents are very old.
  • Driving a car is difficult… Flying a plane is very difficult.

Try not to use very all the time. There are so many other words that you can use instead. For example, you can say that ice is freezing instead of very cold. You can find more examples of these words here.

I hope you didn’t find this lesson too difficult to understand. You can practice more by describing the photos below.

  1. It’s raining _____ hard, but he doesn’t care.
  2. Stay back! We can’t go in there. The fire is ____ hot.
  3. Wow! That dog is ____ big! He’s enormous!
  4. We are ____ late. They are closed until tomorrow.
  5. My jeans are ____ big now. Before I went on a diet, I was ____ fat!
What's the difference between so and such?

So or Such: What’s the difference?

Cats are so funny. You never know what they are really thinking about you, but we can guess from the look on their faces. They make such good expressions!

THE BASIC RULE:

S0 + ADJECTIVE

When SO means “very,” it is usually followed by an adjective.

  • It’s so hot today.
  • The cats are so funny.
  • She looks so beautiful in the photo.

So + (many/much) + noun

With many and much, we need to decide if the noun is countable or uncountable.

  • There are so many cats in the world today. (countable)
  • We have so much work to do before 5:00! (uncountable)

SUCH + NOUN

When SUCH is used for emphasis, it is followed by a noun clause.

  • It’s such a hot day.
  • They are such funny cats.
  • It is such a beautiful photo of her.

Such + (a lot of) + noun

We sometimes use a lot of to modify the noun, but it’s more common to use so much/many.

  • There are such a lot of cats in the world.
  • We have such a lot of work to do before 5:00!
“Meeee-ow?”

Can you describe this cat photo using both such and so? Post your answers in the comments section below!

If you can do it, good job! You are such a good student. English grammar can be so difficult at times. Keep up the good work, cats!

Still vs. Until: What's the difference?

Still Or Until: What’s the Dif?

These two very common words are easy to confuse. They both relate to a measure of time. However, they have completely different meanings, and it’s important to know which one to choose. 

STILL

Use STILL to indicate that an action is not finished. There is usually an emotional reaction to a situation. 

  • I’ve been waiting for an hour, and the bus still hasn’t arrived.
  • Do you still have the jacket you borrowed from me last year?
  • She still hasn’t found a job even though she’s been looking for weeks.
  • Are you still watching the TV show, or can I change the channel?
  • I am still at the DMV because the lines are extremely long.
  • I don’t like what you did, but I still love you.

Look at the difference here:

  • The bus hasn’t arrived yet
  • The bus still hasn’t arrived.
Where is the bus!?

Both sentences mean the same thing. Yet states a fact: no bus. Still is used to add emotions to the fact. You’re annoyed or angry or nervous that the bus didn’t arrive when you expected it to.

UNTIL

Until is used to show change. We use until to indicate the time when a change occurred.

  • I didn’t have a car until last week. (Now I have a car. I got it last week.)
  • I will wait here until 3:00, and then I will go home. (At 3:00, I will stop waiting.)
  • I didn’t speak English until I moved to the U.S. (Now, I speak English.)
  • Please wait until Monday to call the library. (Don’t call before Monday.)
  • I didn’t know you were angry until you told me. (Now I know that you’re angry.)

As you can see, until shows that a change has occurred. it shows a moment in time that is different than the past. Note the differences between still and until in the following sentences:

  • I still don’t have a computer. (No computer in the past or present.)
  • I didn’t have a computer until yesterday. (I have a computer now.)

Practice:

Q: Are there things that you still have to do before you go to bed tonight?

A: Yes, I still have to…..

Q: What are some things we can’t do until we are adults?

A: We can’t…..until we become adults.

Choose still or until in your answer:

Q: How late are you working?

A: I’m working still/until 5 p.m.

Q: Are you finished working?

A: No, I’m still/until working.

That’s all there is to it! Now you know the difference between still and until. 

Until next time, have a wonderful holiday and happy New Year!

What's the difference between go back and come back?

Go Back or Come Back: What’s the Difference?

When talking about travel, it’s easy to confuse the phrasal verbs go back and come backThey both mean to return. So what’s the difference?

It’s actually very simple. It all depends on where you are at the time of speaking. For example, if you are from Italy, but you are in California right now, you would say:

  • I’m going back to Italy in two weeks. (You are in California now, but you are returning to your home country.)
  • I’m coming back to California next year. (You are in California, and you are returning to California next year)

What's the difference between go back and come back?
It depends on the location of the speaker.

Let’s look at a conversation to see some examples.

A: Honey, I’m home! I went shopping, but I forgot to get the eggs.

B: Oh no! I need the eggs to make your birthday cake.

A: OK, I’ll go back to the store and get them.

B: Great. Do you know when you’re coming back home?

A: I’ll be back in 20 minutes.

B: That’s great. Don’t come back without the eggs!

The speakers use come back and go back (and even be back) depending on where they are at the time of speaking. They are both at home, so they use go back to talk about returning to the store, and come back to talk about returning home.

  • I was born in New York, but I haven’t gone back there in many years. (not there)
  • I loved visiting Italy the first time, so I went back there again last year. (not there)
  • I was still tired, so I went back to bed.
  • Our dog ran away a few days ago, but he came back last night.
  • When are you coming back from your trip? We miss you here!

If you have any questions about these phrasal verbs in use, you can always come back to this page to ask questions and practice.

Cheers!

 

 

What's the difference between say and tell?

Say vs. Tell – What’s the Difference?

SAY and TELL are similar – they are used to communicate information. So what’s the difference? The major difference is TELL can include the listener. SAY typically does not include the listener, only what is being said.

(Incorrect)   She said me to call her.

(Correct)      She told me to call her.

TELL

TELL is used with direct object pronouns (me, you, it, her, him, us, them) or other nouns (the children, my dad, the staff). So if you need to include the speaker and the listener, use TELL + direct object noun or pronoun.

  • The boss told his employees not to be late for the meeting.
  • His doctor told him to get more exercise.
  • I told her I lost her camera on my trip.

SAY

SAY does not often include the person you are speaking to. It refers to what was said, not who said it.

  • She said something on the phone, but I couldn’t understand her.
  • I said hello to our new neighbors.
  • When someone takes a picture, it is common to say “Cheese!”
  • If I ask you to come visit, please say yes!

For more on reported speech, check out this post.

It’s time to say goodbye now. Please take a moment to tell me what you think of this lesson.

Cheers!

Will vs. Be Going To

Be Going To vs. Will for the Future Tense: What’s the Difference?

Robot:                What are you going to do today?
Astronaut:        I‘m going to visit the sun.
Robot:                But it’s too hot! You’ll burn up!
Astronaut:        I’ll be fine. I’m going to go at night.

This silly conversation shows how will and be going to are often used together when speaking about the future. What’s the difference between be going to and will? It all depends on the situation.

will-vs-be-going-to-for-future-tense
Never argue about grammar with a robot!

In the conversation, the robot asks the astronaut about his plans using be going to. When the robot tells him, “You’ll burn up,” that is a fact, not a plan, so he uses will. Again, when the astronaut replies, “I’ll be fine,” he is making a promise. The astronaut has a plan: “I’m going to go there at night.” It’s not a very smart plan, but it’s a plan, so he uses be going to.

I hope he wears a lot of sunscreen.

Let’s look at some other uses of be going to and will that depend on the situation.

BE GOING TO

PLANS AND ARRANGEMENTS

Use be going to for things that you already have planned.

  • I‘m going to finish the report this evening.
  • We‘re going to rent a car for the weekend.
  • They‘re going to build a new shopping center here.
  • Ford is going to close several car dealerships next year.
  • Are you going to be late for the meeting?

It’s also good to begin a speaking presentation with, “Today, I’m going to talk about…” Here are some more tips and tricks to giving a great presentation in English.

PREDICTIONS & THE WEATHER

The weather is a prediction for the future, so both forms can be used. Notice that certain expressions are used when we talk about the weather.

  • It looks like it’s going to rain today.
  • I hope the roads won’t be foggy.
  • Do you think it’ll be sunny at the beach?

For all other predictions, be going to and will can both be used, depending on how sure you are about it. The more certain you are, the more you should use be going to.

  • The Giants are definitely going to win the game.
  • My mom is going to love the gift I bought her!
  • Scientists will find a cure for cancer one day.
  • In the next 500 years, what will happen to the climate on Earth?

WILL

INSTANT DECISIONS & CHANGING PLANS

  • The restaurant is closing soon, so I’ll order take out.
  • Your phone battery is dead? I’ll send you an email.
  • There’s a huge traffic jam? I’ll take the metro instead.

PROMISES & THREATS

  • I won’t tell anyone your secret.
  • If you come to work late again, you’ll get fired.
  • I will always be your friend.
  • Will you marry me?

OFFERS

  • The phone’s ringing : I’ll get it.
  • My car’s not working : I’ll give you a ride.
  • I need a few dollars for the bus : I’ll lend you some.
  • The employees should bring something to the meeting : I’ll bring the coffee.

NEGOTIATIONS

  • If you wash the dishes, I’ll set the table
  • If you pay half now, I’ll lower the price.
  • If you buy one, I’ll give you one for free!

Let’s look at some other situations where will and be going to can be used.

At a Restaurant

In the following video, you can see that the customers and server are both using will again and again. That’s because they are making decisions in the moment. When the server says, “I’ll be right back,” she uses will because she is making a promise, not a plan.

A Weather Forecast

Here, you can see how will and be going to are both used to talk about the weather.

Be Going To for Predictions in the Very Near Future

 

Thank you for reading my bog! Now, I’m going to stop writing and watch Grey’s Anatomy, my favorite TV show. (plan) You never know what will happen! (prediction)

See you in the future!

 

In, On, or At? How To Use Prepositions for Transportation, Location, Time, and Technology

English students sometimes feel lost when using the prepositions in, on, and at.

Luckily, there are a few rules you can follow. Prepositions can be learned by topic. Topics can include transportation, location, time and date, and technology. Let’s look at some topics to get you back on the map!

cologne-central-station-railway-station-train-163580.jpegTransportation

For transportation, remember the following guidelines:

IN

Use IN for private transportation.

  • in a car, in a truck, in a taxi, in an Uber, or in a small boat, canoe, or kayak

ON

For public transportation, use ON.

  • on the bus, on a plane, on a ship or cruise, on a train, on the subway, on the trolley

Use ON for things that one person can sit or stand on to ride.

  •  on a bicycle, on a motorcycle, on a horse, on a surfboard, skateboard, or segway! 🙂

AT

Use AT for places where you wait for transport.

  • at the bus stop, at the taxi stand, at the airport, at the train station

pexels-photo.jpgLocations

IN

Think of IN for enclosed spaces and places with borders, like rooms, towns, cities, counties, states, countries, and continents.

  • in the kitchen, in San Diego, in California, in the U.S., in North America, in Europe

Use IN for geographical locations and bodies of water, if you’re swimming!

  • in the mountains, in the forest, in the desert, in the water, in the lake, in the ocean

ON

Use ON for street names, borders, and floors of buildings.

  • on Broadway, on the Mexican border, on the first floor, on 10th Ave.

Use ON for surfaces.

  • on the ground, on the floor, on the wall, on the beach (if you’re tanning!)

AT

Use AT for specific locations, places of business, and stores.

  • at the supermarket, at the beach, at the library
  • at the zoo, at the restaurant, at the mall, at McDonalds, at the hospital

pexels-photo-908298.jpegTimes and Dates

IN

Use IN for enclosed time periods.

  • in December, in the summer, in 1997

ON

Use ON for specific days, dates, and holidays.

  • on Monday, on weekends, on January 22
  • on my birthday, on Christmas, on vacation

AT

Use AT for times of the day.

  • at 6:00pm, at midnight (12:00am), at lunchtime (12pm)
  • at night (but in the morning, in the afternoon, and in the evening)

pexels-photo-607812.jpegMedia and Technology

IN

Use IN for paper media.

  • in a book, in a newspaper, in a magazine, in a journal

ON

Use ON for electronic media and technology.

  • on the internet, on tv, on the radio, on the phone
  • on social media, on facebook, instagram, whatsapp, etc.

AT

Use AT or the @ symbol for websites, url’s, emails, and web addresses only.

You can learn more about advanced preposition use here.

 

Do You or Are You? Choosing the Correct Verb When Asking Questions in the Present Tense

Students often confuse the verbs to do and to be when asking questions. What’s the difference between Do you…? and Are you…?

Here is a quick guide on how to choose the right verb, right away.

First, let’s study TO DO.

When you want to ask about an action in the present, use do or does.

DO/DOES + Subject + Verb (S. Present) + Object

Examples:

  • Do you like to travel?
  • Where do they want to go?
  • Does the store sell office furniture?
  • What does he need to buy?

And that’s it! Any time you want to ask about a verb in the simple present, use does for he/she/it and do for all other subjects.

Now, let’s look at the verb TO BE.

AM/IS/ARE + Subject + Noun

The be verb has more abilities than the do verb.

Use be with nouns.

Example:

  • Are you a studentAre you in CaliforniaAre you a good cook?
  • Is he the boss?
  • Am I in your class?

AM/IS/ARE + Subject + Adjective

Use be with an adjective.

Example:

  • Are you hungryAre you comfortable at your desk? Are you interested in science fiction movies?
  • Is she sick today?
  • Amlate for your appointment?

AM/IS/ARE + Subject+ Verb+ING (Present Continuous)

Finally, use the be verb before a verb in the continuous form (ING).

Example:

  • Are you listening to the presentation?
  • Is he working late tonight?
  • Are they bringing any snacks to the meeting?
  • Is your phone battery charging right now?

So there you have it. I hope you find this information useful. Now try asking some questions with Do you…? and Are you…and see how it works for you!