Student or Learner
In a recent thread, vil offered the phrase "to pour with rain". The thread has been closed, but I feel the discussion hasn't concluded.
The native speakers expressed the opinion that "pour with rain" is not an expression and that it would not be normally used by a native speaker. Vil provided a link to a dictionary entry and the thread was closed. I would like to understand the phrase's status better. Since it's in a dictionary and Mark Davies' corpora have 44 examples of its being used, I would like to know how common it is and whether it sounds incorrect to native speakers (no one explicitly said it does).
My CoCA search gave:
It is/It’s/It was pouring with rain -3
It poured with rain – 1
It is/ It’s/ It was pouring – 127
It poured - 63
This supports my feeling that, although pouring with rain is not incorrect as such, it just happens to be something that not many people say.
Whether or not it appears in lists of English idioms does not change this. It is raining cats and dogs appears in many books of idioms, but it is not something native speakers of BrE use much. In fact, the only people I have heard using this in the last twenty years have been non-native speakers who were taught it by their teachers.
We use the cats and dogs one here. I would never say that it's pouring with rain, though I would say that it's pouring or that it's coming down in buckets. The cats and dogs expression and the buckets expression are for when it's raining harder than a pouring rain.
Last edited by Barb_D; 11-Jun-2011 at 13:13.
I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.
[pour] with rain
COCA doesn't have many hits, but BNC has 31, which is a figure larger than the number of hits "give up school" has in all of the corpora combined. In my experience, "give up school" is a quite frequently used expression.
***** NOT A TEACHER *****
Hello, Birdeen's Call:
(1) I have just read the locked thread, and I was most distressed by
the unpleasant tone I found.
(2) The Editor decided to lock it. He is the editor, and that is his
perogative. He may lock threads, delete posts, or ban members.
(3) I hope that he will allow your new thread if we all maintain a
(4) I have been a member for a year and a half, and I know Vil to be
an extremely conscientious student of the language. I know that she
is genuinely interested in vocabulary.
(5) We Americans love win-win situations. That is, a situation in which
everyone wins something. We hate the word "loser." In this case,
everyone is right. There are no "losers."
(6) If Vil is reading this, I wish to say two things:
(a) Yes, "pour with rain" is not -- NOWADAYS -- an idiomatic
phrase, as many of the posters in the locked thread said. When
we say "It poured yesterday, " we assume that it was rain that came
pouring down. I personally had never heard of "pour with rain," but --
of course -- that is no test of anything, for I have not heard about
a lot of things.
(b) But Vil is 100% correct that for some people, especially in past
years, "pour with rain" was an acceptable expression.
(7) I googled "books" and found these examples:
rain (hard, in torrents, cats and dogs, pitchforks, pour with rain, drizzle, spit, set in, mizzle). Source: Roget's Thesarus (the year 1911).
While Mr. Dale was riding about, it began to pour with rain. Source:
The Children's Pic-nic [sic] and what came of Emilia (the year 1868).
... seems likely to pour with rain. Source: The Westminster Review (the year 1834).
When we reached Qinghua University, it began to pour with rain.
Source: Beijing Coma (written by Ma Jian and Flora Drew, published in 2009).
(8) When I first joined as a member, a top teacher said that I was
behaving like one of Dickens's characters when I professed to be
"humble." Well, I am humble, and I feel that this particular case
of "pour with rain" is an excellent example of why all of us should always
be very humble, patient, kind, understanding, and respectful of one
This appears to be one of those things that takes people by surprise. We normally expect people, at least speakers of one dialect, to agree generally on what is acceptable or not, but this one has us stumped. We range from SD, in the other thread, who thought it was not an expression; through Barb, who would never say it; Parser, who had never heard of it, who feels it was used in the past; me, who accepts it but feels it's not often used; to bhai, who finds it common enough where he comes from. BNC has more citations than COCA.
All I think we can say is that some people find it acceptable and common; others don't.
Perhaps it's common in BrE, but saying "it's pouring with rain" to an AmE speaker will get you a bemused (if not confused) look. In fact, the listener would most likely ask "What is pouring with rain?", not understanding that you mean the sky. Because it is not common usage in the US. At all. We say "it's pouring" or "it's pouring rain" or "It started pouring and I got soaked" (usually just "pouring" when referring to the weather indicates we mean rain, so the word "rain" doesn't even need to be added).
So while "pouring with rain" may be grammatically correct in English overall, the main point of becoming fluent in a language is to be understood by native speakers. By the same token, in Canada and the UK "he was taken to hospital" is correct and commonly used phraseology, but in the US it would sound funny or awkward (even though it would be understood), as we always use the indefinite article "the" - "he was taken to the hospital".
NB: This is NOT an attempt to muddy the waters. I am genuinely interested.
ps. As this discussion has gone on, 'pouring with rain' is beginning to sound more and more natural to me.
Last edited by 5jj; 11-Jun-2011 at 21:16.