Rain, Rain Go Away ...

You probably know how to say that it's raining

Coming from England, however, I know many other ways to say that it's raining! There are also different ways to describe the intensity or amount of rain. We often use light or heavy to describe rain, but let's have a look at some alternatives.

To describe light rain, use:

  • Drizzle/drizzly - Rain that is light but fairly continuous.
  • Spitting - Very light rain that is infrequent. Sometimes it takes a while to know it is even raining.
  • Showers - Nothing to do with the bathroom! These are very short bouts of rain. They can be light or heavy but they are characterized mainly by their frequency and brevity. England has many of these!
  • Soft/softly - This is not incorrect, but it is uncommon. The opposite, however - hard rain - is far more common.

To describe heavy rain, use:

  • Pouring/downpour - A lot of rain coming down continuously.
  • Driving - This is my favourite. This kind of rain is powerful and sometimes horizontal. It strikes you quite hard.
  • Torrential - One of the heaviest types of rain possible. This is a lot of rain falling heavily and continuously, often for a long period of time. It is often associated with tropical climates and rain forests.
  • Cats and dogs (!) - Very English, this one! It may come from the days when dead animals were washed up on the streets during heavy rainfall.

Interesting points about rain and weather

  • Precipitation: We don't use this much in informal speech. This is the scientific or meteorological word for rain and moisture. 
  • Monsoons: Extraordinarily heavy rain that lasts for weeks and months in India and South Central Asia.
  • An interesting phrase for rainThe heavens have opened.
  • In history: Some cultures believed rain to be tears from the gods.
  • Oh...one last thing. Do you know that there is a word for that distinctive smell (which is lovely, I think) after a rainstorm? Petrichor. It is the wet oils in the earth and soil that you can smell.

It won't be long before it starts tipping it down in Japan. Show off some rain vocabulary to your teacher next time! Take care!