Rain vs. Rein vs. Reign

What is the difference?


Rain, rein, and reign are homophones. They are three words that sound the same but are spelled differently. Homophones can be challenging for many people because they sound the same. But if you learn their correct definitions and practice each one, you will have no problem in mastering these three words.

Rain vs. Rein vs. Reign

Let's look at some examples to help you learn the distinction.

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All English Tenses

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All Tenses

Rain can be both a noun and a verb.

As a noun, rain is water that falls from the sky. It falls in drops, called rain drops.

Rain cloud

Examples:

  • The rain is very heavy today.
    (The falling water is very heavy today.)

    Heavy rain
  • The rain hasn't stopped all week.
    (The weather has been very wet all week.)

    Raining all week
  • Last night's rain was so loud and heavy it woke us up.
    (Last night's falling water was so loud and heavy it woke us up.)

    Raining cats and dogs

Rain can also be used as a verb. As a verb, it refers to the act of rain falling from the sky.

Examples:

  • Today it is supposed to rain.
    (Today's weather says water will fall from the sky.)

    Forecast rain
  • It was raining when I came home today.
    (Water was falling from the sky when I came home today.)

    Raining at home
  • I hate when it rains because I can't go outside and play.
    (I hate when water falls from the sky because I can't go outside and play.)

    Playing in the rain


Collocations

Collocations are commonly spoken phrases in English that occur naturally in speech. Becoming familiar with collocations will allow you to speak naturally with others and provide smooth dialogue in conversations.


Rain
Collocations

  1. Rainy day (a day in which it rains a lot, commonly used as an excuse to be lazy or unproductive)

    Example: It was a rainy day today so I didn't leave the house.

    Raining today

  2. Heavy/light rain

    Examples:

    - The forecast is calling for heavy rain tomorrow.
    - You might need a jacket because we are supposed to get some light rain.

    Jacket

  3. Pouring/pelting rain (to pelt means to fall very heavily)

    Examples:

    - It's pouring rain outside so grab your jacket.
    - The rain is pelting!


Rein

The word rein is generally associated with horses and many of its uses come from this relationship. The word comes from a Latin word that means "to hold back."

Horse

Commonly, a rein is the strap that is used to control a horse while riding it.

Examples:

  • Joseph held the reins of his horse while his father directed him where to go.
    (Joseph held the horse's straps while his father directed him where to go.)

    Horse reins
  • The horse's reins were brown and worn from all the years of riding.
    (The straps on the horse were worn and brown from all the years of riding.)

    Brown straps
  • Amanda was buying new reins for her horse.
    (Amanda was buying a new harness for her horse.)

    New reins

Rein can also mean the ability to control something. Free rein (or full rein) means the freedom to do or say what you want. A tight rein means strict control.


Examples:

  • I get a free rein in the house when my parents are gone.
    (I get the freedom to do whatever I want in the house when my parents are away.)

    Free rein
  • Give full rein to your imagination and you will be surprised.
    (Use your imagination freely and you will be surprised.)

    Imagination
  • The boys are kept under tight rein when they're at their grandparents. (The boys are not given very much freedom when they're at their grandparents.)

    At the grandparents

Rein Collocations

  1. Rein it in (control it)

    Examples:

    - Please rein in your child.
    - Rein in your dog.

    Dog control

  2. Take/give the reins (to take control)

    Examples:

    - I will take the reins in this situation.
    - I gave the reins to Jackie because she had more experience.

    More experience


Reign

The word reign is associated with kings and queens.

Kings and queens

As a noun, a reign refers to a period of time that a king or queen rules.

  • The King's reign was twenty years.
    (The King's period of power was twenty years.)

    Throne

  • The church was built during Queen Elizabeth's reign.                         (The church was built during Queen Elizabeth's time of power.)

    The queen

When reign is used as a verb, it means to rule as a king, queen, etc, or to have powerful influence over something.


Examples:

  • The King reigned over England for thirty years.
    (The King ruled England for thirty years.)

    Kings crown
  • The Queen is the reigning power now that the King has died.
    (The Queen is the one in power now that the King has died.)

    Queen's power
  • I will reign over this house when mom and dad are gone.
    (I will run this house when mom and dad are gone.)


Reign
Collocations

  1. Reign of terror (when someone controls something and causes lots of problems for people)

    Reign of terror

  2. Reigning power
    Queen Victoria is the reigning power now.

    Queen Victoria


A Story to Practice Reign vs. Rein vs. Rain

Queen Vicky reigns over the land. She has been the reigning Queen for four years. She has a beautiful horse that she likes to ride everyday. One day, Queen Vicky goes on her morning ride. While she is riding, it begins to rain very heavily!

Vicky becomes wet and angry. Her reins slip in her hands and her hair becomes heavy. Her horse begins to whine. He doesn't like the rain either. The Queen begins to yell. "I am the reigning Queen! I say when it rains!" Now the Queen becomes even more angry. It begins to rain harder!

With her reins in her hand, the Queen kicks the horse and begins to gallop home. Within minutes, she arrives. She quickly dismounts from the horse and removes his reins. Soon, the horse regains his freedom and has free rein over the barn.

The Queen runs inside and dries herself off. She decides she will always check the weather before taking her horse out because she cannot control the weather and reign over nature too!

Riding a horse


Quiz

Fill in the blanks with the appropriate word. Each question is worth ten points.

  1. I couldn't go skating because it was ____________. (reigning / reining / raining)

  2. The King's ____________ (reign / rain / rein) of terror had finally come to an end.

  3. Everyone in the kingdom thought the Queen's ____________ (reign / rain / rein) had lasted long enough.

  4. I took my saddle and ____________ (reign / rain / rein) to the barn.

  5. Joseph had free ____________ (reign / rain / rein) over his job when his boss was out of town.

  6. Jill was free to step up and ____________ (reign / rain / rein) over the town now that the mayor had stepped down.

  7. The ____________ (reign / rain / rein) never stopped Sarah from going on her morning jog.

  8. "____________ (reign / rain / rein) it in, Joseph! You're being too crazy."

  9. The castle was built during King Andrew's ____________ (reign / rain / rein).

  10. The forecast was calling for ____________ (reign / rain / rein) next week.


Answer Key

1. raining | 2. reign | 3. reign | 4. rein | 5. rein | 6. reign | 7. rain | 8. rein | 9. reign | 10. rain


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