In Dutch we have the word voorschieten. In English it translates — according to Google Translate — to "advance, lend, disburse". The Dutch word voorschieten is used in an informal setting between friends where you pay for that friend's dinner or drinks and expect to be paid back later.

Do you say in English "Mary loaned John money for the drinks"? or "Mary advanced money for the dinner"? or do you use another expression? Loaning sounds a bit heavy to me. It's like "A loan for a car".

A friend from New Zealand came up with "Mary spotted John money for the lunch", but I wonder if it's understood in the US.

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    Americans, at least the ones I know, will understand spotted. They might also say fronted or lent. Loan really doesn't carry that heavyweight connotation in a lightweight context such as I forgot my wallet so John lent/loaned me $10".
    – Jim
    Oct 11, 2012 at 18:49
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    friends don't need words.
    – shabunc
    Oct 11, 2012 at 18:51
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    Basically agree with Jim. "Spotted" is recognized but I think relatively rare. I think most people would say "loaned". It's quite common in the US to say, "Hey Bob, could you loan me ten bucks", etc. There's no connotation of filling out a formal loan application and checking credit references.
    – Jay
    Oct 11, 2012 at 18:52
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    All of the above, or "Could I bum ten bucks?" Oct 11, 2012 at 19:14
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    In the UK I think you'd earn a blank look if you used "Spotted" in this context.
    – Martin
    Oct 11, 2012 at 21:46

6 Answers 6


In first-person conversation, I would generally say something like "I'll cover this one, you can get the next" or "I've got this, you can owe me." Or, going the other way, "If you could take this, I'll pick up the next one."

As @Jim mentions in a comment, "fronting" is a good term too. "Bob fronted Mary a twenty so she could pick up the new release while it was on sale" would imply that Bob expects that $20 to be repaid.

  • 6
    +1 for "cover" and "got" - that's what I'd use in the first person, too.
    – amacy
    Oct 11, 2012 at 19:21
  • All these, plus, "This one's on me..."
    – J.R.
    Oct 11, 2012 at 20:03
  • +1 for "will pick up", but I agree with @amacy too.
    – user19148
    Oct 11, 2012 at 20:30
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    "This one's on me" carries the implication that you don't expect to be paid back. Oct 11, 2012 at 21:02
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    +1, "cover" is most likely what I would say (US English speaker).
    – alcas
    Oct 11, 2012 at 22:19

There are two possible interpretations of your question, and they're giving rise to two different kinds of answers which mean different things.

If by "pay back" you mean the person will return the specific amount of money to you in the near future, common words (at least in my experience, in US English) would be "fronting" the money or "spotting" the money. If I "front someone the money" or "spot a friend five dollars", or some such, that means that I expect the person to hand approximately that amount of money to me in the near future.

On the other hand, you might expect to be paid back in kind. Perhaps this week when we go out for beers I'll pay for yours, and then next week you'll pay for mine. Then phrases like "I'll cover this" or "I've got this one" are appropriate. If I say "I'll cover this round" and the next day you show up with a fistful of money to pay me back for those beers, I might well take offense; the phrase suggests that I expect to be paid back indirectly, by you covering a future round.

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    Yes, this exactly. To some extent, one's a financial obligation and the other's a social obligation. Oct 11, 2012 at 21:33
  • Yes, "spot" is exactly the word I'd use here. Oct 11, 2012 at 22:35
  • Maybe @Ward can clarify this. I'm German, and we have "vorschießen" - Ward's description of the use sounds very similar. The normal case of paying back would be in money. Example situation: you're going to the cafeteria. The friend tries to keep the tablet in balance while digging for his money (or forgot it in the office). I'd then say "I can front/spot/... you the money". Usually the money is paid back at the table/back in the office. If for some reason this did not happen, say, till next time in the cafeteria, it may be paid back in kind. Oct 12, 2012 at 15:22
  • ... "vorschießen" cannot be used for the second meaning: those expressions ("Let me pay for you", "May I invite you", "I'll cover this round") imply that no back transaction is expected. Social rules in the pub work differently over here than e.g. in the UK. Of course, no one will be offended if the round is reciprocated. But neither is it an offense if next morning the other shows up with money and asks how much his share is: you may deny being paid, or allow him to buy you a beer next time. Oct 12, 2012 at 15:38
  • @cbeleites it's the case where you are expected to be payed back. Oct 12, 2012 at 18:04

A common expression in US is

This is my round.
I'll get this round.

The implication is that there are several rounds, and that someone else who is being treated will get the next round.

American Heritage defines round as

8) One drink for each person in a gathering or group: Let me buy the next round.

For meals or other purchases, a similar expression might be

This one is my treat.

The implication is the next one is yours.


I have heard and occasionally used the term

Cadge me a pint

Which should really have been

May I cadge a pint?

But that's not how we spoke to one another.

The way we used it, it means something like your dutch words.

In other words, it's like saying

I'm a bit strapped for cash so could you buy me a pint on the understanding that the favor will be returned at some time.

P.S. I have since found it in the Idioms - By the Free Dictionary website.

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    For what it's worth, "cadge" sounds very British to my American ear.
    – amacy
    Oct 11, 2012 at 19:20
  • Yes it probably is. But then Holland is much nearer to Britain than America. I take your point though. It might go down better in some circles than others.
    – Alan Gee
    Oct 11, 2012 at 19:24
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    In my (American) experience, cadge has an implication of "beg" rather than "borrow" - meaning that if the request is granted there might not be an expectation of repayment at all, either monetary or in-kind. Generally, I've heard it used (usually in a derogatory way) not between friends, but to refer to "that guy" who's always cadging drinks.
    – MT_Head
    Oct 12, 2012 at 3:06
  • I can only really base it on my own experience. It was definitely used in a friendly way between my friends an me.
    – Alan Gee
    Oct 12, 2012 at 11:50

Let's not forget the 'Ghetto' (highly informal) way to say it in America:

I got'chu homie. Just hit me up next time.


If I went for dinner with a friend, and decided that "going Dutch" was awkward, I might say "I'll get this", and perhaps jokingly or to disarm any protests: "You can get it next time" or "You can get it another time." I think it would be quite likely that if we ever went out again, the friend would insist on paying, saying perhaps "No - you got it last time", or "you paid last time".

Maybe you could say "I'll sub you this", which might imply a need to reciprocate.

Buying someone a meal is always a gift. It's very hard to expect repayment. On the other hand, in English pub life, when you buy someone a drink, of course, it's a gift, but there's a strong expectation that everyone pays their turn, although not necessarily on the same day. It's not uncommon for people to begin an evening with one person saying to the other, "It's my round, you got them in last time". An appropriate response might be: "Is it? Oh, OK. Mine's a pint, then."

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