How to use to lend and to borrow in Spanish can be a bit confusing sometimes because it doesn't work the same way as in English.
In Spanish, we use:
prestar for to lend
pedir prestado for to borrow
How to use prestar in Spanish
We normally use the verb prestar directly or by combining it with "poder". For example:
¿Me prestas tu boli, por favor?(Would) you lend me your pen, please?
¿Me puedes prestar tu boli, por favor?Can you lend me your pen, please?
Juan me prestó su chaqueta porque tenía frío.Juan lent me his jacket because I was cold.
Ella no te podía prestar su libro porque era de la biblioteca.She couldn't lend you her book because it was from the library.
¿Crees que Mario nos prestaría sus auriculares?Do you think Mario would lend us his headphones?
In all examples above using "prestar" and "poder prestar", the verb agrees with the person who is doing the lending.
How to use pedir prestado in Spanish
We use "pedir algo prestado" to say "to borrow something". It is often used with "poder" in questions:
¿Te puedo pedir prestado tu vestido azul?Can I borrow your blue dress?
¿Te puedo pedir prestadas tus herramientas?Can I borrow your tools?
Mi vecina me pidió prestada la aspiradora y todavía no me la ha devuelto.My neighbour borrowed my hoover and she hasn't brought it back yet.
¿Os puedo pedir prestados 30 euros? Los necesito urgentemente.Can I borrow 30 euros from you guys? I need them urgently.
Agreement of "prestado"
Notice how the adjective prestado needs to agree in gender and number with what is borrowed (vestido, prestado; herramientas, prestadas)
If we use "pedir prestado" as shown in the examples above, the verb needs to agree with the person who is borrowing. See these two contrasting examples:
¿Me prestas 10 euros?
¿Te puedo pedir prestados 10 euros?
verb: puedo pedir
The main difficulty with these verbs is the use of pedir prestado, as in Spanish there is no direct verb to express "to borrow". Looking at it literally, it is as if we were saying "to ask something borrowed".
Note that it is a lot more frequent to use "to lend" than "to borrow" in Spanish. This means that if someone wants to say: I borrowed something from someone, it is much more likely that the speaker uses the verb prestar (to lend) to say someone lent me something, like this:
Él me prestó... (He lent me...)
Le pedí prestado... (I borrowed...)
Note on tomar algo prestado:
You may also see the verb tomar in this same context. Bear in mind that there is a subtle difference between using pedir prestado and tomar prestado, the former implying that someone is asking to borrow something while the latter doesn't necessarily imply there was any asking! So it could be that someone has taken something with the intention of returning it but they didn't ask first, or, that the asking part is not relevant and that the focus is on the person being in possession of something because someone lent it to him/her. For example:
Tomé prestado el dinero, pero no te preocupes, mañana te lo devuelvo.I took the money [unclear if borrowed with or without permission], but don't worry, I will give it back tomorrow.
Te pedí prestado el dinero y mañana te lo devolveré.I borrowed the money [permission was asked] and I will give it back tomorrow.
Watch out for the indirect object pronouns (me, te, le, nos, os, les) used with prestar and pedir prestado which will indicate who something is borrowed from or who something is lent to.
Also note that there is a more colloquial verb often used instead of prestar (to lend): dejar algo a alguien
¿Me dejas tu bicicleta?Will/would you lend me your bicycle?
It's important to note that when we ask someone if we can borrow something/if someone can lend us something, we generally use the very direct question:
Although dejar literally means "to lend", in English it's often translated as "Can I borrow...?" instead of Can you lend me...?
Dejar is a versatile verb which can mean different things depending on the context. See also Spanish verbs Dejar vs Dejarse (pronominal verbs)
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