My dictionaries have a few example sentences that contain the verb borrow in the progressive aspect:

By then, she was borrowing more money just to service her debts.

Today Continental European languages are borrowing words from American English.

It seems to me that both of these mean "the action of borrowing is being done".

Can I use "I'm borrowing five books from the library" to mean that "I currently have five books from the library (and I have to return it before the due date)"? If not, what phrase is appropriate?

1 Answer 1


Yes, borrow has multiple interpretations:

  1. As a punctual verb (a verb with no duration), it refers to the point in time the objects come into your possession: "I borrowed a book from the library today." (The speaker most likely still has the book.)

  2. As a durative verb (a verb with a duration), it refers to the span of time you possess the objects. "I'm borrowing five books from the library." (The speaker still has the books.)

You want to use sense 2, which is fine.

When the progressive is used with sense 1, it's used to express a repetitive or habitual action—each act of borrowing is conceptualized as taking place in an instant, but multiple acts of borrowing can be taken together as occurring over a longer span of time, so the progressive is possible.

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