The rain or rain?


We are in the middle of a full blown arguement in the office where I work and I hope to find a solution here.

A lady from Poland corrected a colleague of mine for asking " Do you like the rain?"

She said that he had asked the question wrong and it was in fact "Do you like rain?"

I explained that I thought it was "the" rain as it's a specific type of weather from a group.

I thought I was ahead, but then she contered that you would not say "Do you like the sleet?"

She's right, it sounds rubbish!


I'm not a clever person, so please explain it in layman terms.


Any help in bringing peace back to our office would be much appreciated.

asked Oct 03 '12 at 19:00 Bert New member

2 answers


This is one of those where you will have to settle for an honourable draw (like in an English cricket match lasting 5 days where both sides are happy with no result).


Both usages are correct, and in this particular instance they are completely interchangeable. Do you like the rain? and Do you like rain? can both refer to rain in general and the specific rain that might be falling at the time of the question.


You'll hear all sorts of theories which attempt to explain the mysterious art of English article usage, but this is one of those occasions where you have to hold your hands up and say, "Sorry! That's just how it is . . ."


Living in Warsaw, I've lost count of the number of times I've had to "apologise" to non-native authors and English-speaking Poles about our articles.

link edited Oct 03 '12 at 19:59 Peter Guess Expert

Thank you Peter.I'll take your advice and that was also my gut feeling.... I'm running next time they start bickering about nonsense.

BertOct 03 '12 at 20:17

Next time you're pushed into a corner regarding articles, try asking (if the person is a native Polish speaker) if they would like to try and justify having twenty-two variations on the word "dwa" (two) according to its grammatical role in a sentence.

Peter GuessOct 03 '12 at 21:07

add comment

I almost agree with Peter, but not quite. Either version can represent rain in general. You really have to know the context, hear the tone of voice, and see the body language to decide whether "the rain" is meant to be general or specific.


But in American usage, "rain" (without the article) is seldom used to mean a specific rain. The two are interchangeable in one direction, but not both..

link answered Oct 04 '12 at 03:37 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow

Yes, that's right. If one of two people standing in the rain asked, "Do you like rain," it would mean rain in general.

Peter GuessOct 04 '12 at 10:22

add comment

Your answer

Write at least 20 characters

Have a question about English grammar, style or vocabulary use? Ask now to get help from Grammarly experts for FREE.