Renting And Hiring In American English, British English, And Spanish

In America you rent housing, storage or retail space, either as the money payer or the money recipient. You would figure out which based on context.

“I rent a nice bungalow on Maple street.” = Speaker likely pays the rent money.
“I rent five different houses and a couple of retail spaces.” = Speaker likely receives the rent money.

In the UK, you let housing, and I assume also storage space, retail space, etc. Is that true (about the other spaces, or do you only let housing)? Does the same word apply to whether you’re paying the money or receiving the money?

Also in the US, you rent equipment, like a car or a carpet-cleaning machine or a bouncy castle for your child’s birthday party. In the UK you hire such equipment.

My translator app gives me the Spanish verbs alquilar and rentar, and I assume they’re used interchangeably? Or is there a usage based on context, like renting space vs. renting equipment (letting vs. hiring in British English). Also in Spanish, does the verb change based on if you’re paying the money vs. receiving it?

In American English, you hire someone for a short job or a long one. “I hired a plumber” (short job) or “I hired a new cook” (long job). Do you use the word “hire” in this context in the UK? And as for Spanish, my translator app gives contratar - is it used in both contexts?

And finally, a bonus Spanish question: babysitting. Translator gives me cuidar (to use caution). Is this correct? What is the noun form (babysitter)?

I can only speak for USA usage.

There is a lot of ambiguity in these statements. Using the phrase “I rent out…” might remove some of it.

It’s a lot like saying, “I sold a house across town…”. Does this mean I was the owner and seller, or the agent who listed the property for sale, or the agent who found a buyer for the transaction?"

In the U.S. you can also ‘lease’ a car, wherein you have use of the car for a fixed term (36 - 60 months typically) and make monthly payments. I’d be curious to know if the same expression is used in the U.K. or Australia (or if this arrangement even exists there). In the U.S. if you rent a car, it’s for a few days or a week, like on a vacation.

For Spanish, I think that ‘alquilar’ is standard Spanish, and ‘rentar’ is Spanglish. I see lots of signs advertising “basement para renta” around here.

In the US, I have never heard this usage. I have only heard “I rent out five different houses.”

Alquilar is “standard” Spanish (i.e., you actually find it in the dictionary with that meaning), rentar is a direct loan from English (while the word is in the dictionary, it’s not with that meaning); they both mean the same and are recognized in every dialect, but some dialects are more likely to use one or the other. Arrendar means the same but in most dialects it is at a higher cultural level: a legal document is highly likely to use arrendar, but someone speaking is unlikely to use it (some dialects do use arrendar more frequently than alquilar or rentar). What changes is the noun: the person who owns the goods is the arrendador, the person receiving them is the arrendatario, but both are arrendando, alquilando or rentando the goods. This leads to conversational bits such as:
Tenía alquilado el piso de mi abuela… (I had my grandmother’s flat in rental…)
¿Que vivías, o que el alquiler lo llevabas tú?/¿Como arrendadora o como arrendataria? (You lived there, or you managed the rental?)
Que vivía./Como arrendataria. (I lived there).

There is a specific mode for renting machinery called renting (hello English, mind if we borrow this word? Thankyamuchas). Leasing a car is leasing (or lísin), renting one for a few days is alquilar/rentar/arrendar again.

A babysitter can be called la béibisiter (or, if you can spell English,* la babysitter*); in Spain a nanny/frequent babysitter is called niñera and the official name for an infrequent babysitter would be niñera ocasional. But, there are some people who feel like saying their kid has a niñera (even if the niñera is grandma) is “giving themselves airs” and they tend to prefer the borrowed term. Other dialects will use one or the other depending on social perception etc.

Cuidar is to take care of: cuidador or cuidadora can work for babysitter but also for grandmasitter or for housesitter or for…

It gets better. I* rent* an apartment, but I sign an document called a lease.

When I hire a car for short-term use, I rent it, and sign a* rental agreement/contract*. But when I hire the same car for long-term use, I sign a* lease*, and I use “lease” as a verb.

I suspect this all has something to with the concept of short-term vs. long-term in the U.S. vs. U.K.

And in the U.S. we don’t hire objects, we hire people. So we would rent a car, but hire a car and driver.

I thought I’d answered this one but apparently I managed to eat it with the edits. Yes, we use the same word. It is also the same word when you hire a company('s services): acabo de contratar internet para el piso (I just got internet for my flat).

For bonus points, a contract is a contrato and a contractor is a contratista; a subcontractor is a subcontratista or subcontrata (this version is more frequently found in Spain than in other areas). In dialects from Northern Spain or with a lot of influence from these, industrial subcontracting is maquilar, and those companies which manufacture under other people’s label are maquiladoras. US usage of maquiladora tends to imply lousy working conditions; in Spanish it refers to whether the factory does part or all of their work under somebody else’s brand and has nothing to do with working conditions.

That’s the same in the UK, but it’s also common to “hire” a car for a short period.

Part of that, I suspect, is that, to the extent that the word maquiladora gets used here in the US at all (it’s not a common term here), it’s in the context of factories in Latin America (particularly Mexico) which make products for the US market under preferential trade agreements.

The landlord lets or rents the property, the tenant rents.

Yep, that’s it. Letting something is what the owner does, not the borrower.

I’d say for equipment you can either rent or hire it. Cars are usually hire cars, and I suppose the last time I tried to get a piece of large equipment for the garden I’d have said that I hired it. But I think there’s a fair amount of crossover - you used to go to the shop called Radio Rentals to rent or hire a TV.

Zimaane - cars on lease do exist in England too, and the terms used are the same. They’re less common than in the US.

This is an area where English is just weird. For what it’s worth, Garner’s Modern American Usage says that in American English, “rent” and “lease” are “both used for what the tenant does and the landlord does.” In British English, the landlord leases and the lessor rents, so it’s unambiguous.

But, Americans, in my experience, generally resolve this ambiguity by using the term “rent out” for the British “lease” and reserving the unadorned “rent” solely for what the tenant does. Garner implicitly endorses this formulation in Black’s Law Dictionary (which he also edits), by defining “let” as “to offer (property) for lease, to rent out.” In my experience, landlords all talk about “renting out” a unit. If someone said to me only, “I’m renting a beach house for the summer,” or “I rent a place in New York,” I’d assume that they were going to be a tenant, not that they were a property owner collecting rent.

Thanks. Another small difference - in the U.S. we sale a car is ‘for lease’ rather than ‘on lease’.

BTW, to my American ears ‘hiring’ an object sounds quite strange.

Yes, it seems that in the US one only “hires” a person, not an object.

Australian follows English, as modified by international companies, American media, and a recent migration total now pushing towards 50% of the population. Whatever you say, it’s in use here. Houses are traditionally “To Let”, but I’ve seen “For Rent” signs, which are probably speaking to Chinese immigrants – no need for a new word for the letting process when after they’ve signed the rental or lease agreement they’ll have to pay rent for the house they are renting.

While I’m here: the term “Hire-purchase” has fallen almost completely out of use. If you are doing salary-sacrifice to buy a car with pre-tax income, what you get is a novated lease. If you are buying a car with post-tax finance, you’re just buying it. Unless you’re a company - because leases are treated differently than capital expenditure for tax purposes.

In British English, the only difference between ‘hire’ and ‘rent’ is how they are used in practice. I would hire a car (or a horse) short term or lease one for a longer-term (there are many kinds of leases), but I would rent a flat or a house (I would sign a rental agreement, not a lease). I would hire staff, but not rent them and if I was a landlord I would be ‘renting out’ property.

Signs outside houses for rent invaiable say “To Let” and the person who would deal with it would be a letting agent working for an estate agent.

Aint English wonderful…:slight_smile:

It is the same in the UK.

Yes, when you occasionally see a phrase that looks like someone is “hiring” an object, it implies that you are hiring a person who “comes with” the object. For example, if I “hire a limo” for my daughter’s prom - I’m hiring the driver rather than renting the limo to drive it myself.