Rain, reign, and rein. They may seem simple words, but their similarity in sound can cause so much confusion, especially for writers. I always see these three words commonly misused or misspelled in indie books, leading to misunderstandings and sometimes even hilarious situations. So, I’ll delve into the differences between rain, reign, and rein and provide examples of how you use them correctly.
Reigns vs. Reins vs. Rains
Let’s start with the most commonly confused pair: reigns and reins. Reigns refer to the period when a monarch rules a country or kingdom. Reins are the straps or ropes used to control a horse.
Meanwhile, rain is just the water that falls from the sky in droplets. So, unless you’re talking about a horse-drawn carriage during a royal procession in the rain, it’s very unlikely you’ll need to use all three words in one sentence. Although…
I pulled back on the reins of the horse as I saw rain falling over the kingdom where the evil queen reigns. I did it!
How Do You Spell Rain?
It’s just r-a-i-n if you mean the water that falls from the sky. But it’s r-e-i-g-n if you’re talking about ruling over something, and r-e-i-n for referring to a horse leash or scaling back on something.
Is It Reign in or Rein In?
Another common question I hear all the time is whether we should use “reign in” or “rein in” when talking about scaling something back or pulling back on a horse.
The correct phrase is “rein in,” which means to control or limit something. It comes from horseback riding, where leather reins are used to control a horse’s movements. So, if you need to control anything at all, remember to “rein it in,” not “reign it in.”
Just think of the popular TV show Reign. It’s about kings and queens ruling over kingdoms (and a bunch of other subplots), but just imagine the way the title looks whenever you need to remember which word is used to describe ruling over something.
For remembering the definition of rein, I always think of reindeer, which has the word rein in it.
Homonyms of Rain
Yes, rain is a homonym, meaning it has multiple meanings spelled and pronounced the same way. However, its homophones rein and reign don’t have homonyms.
The word “rain” can mean a shower of something other than water, like “a rain of arrows” or “a rain of criticism.” But you can also use it as a verb to describe the act of showering, like “to rain down on.”
Rein, rain, and reign are each other’s homophones, meaning they’re words that sound alike but have different definitions.
Rain, Reign, and Rein Pronunciations
Despite their differences in how they’re spelled and what they mean, rain, reign, and rein all have the same pronunciation. You should say each of them as rayn with a long “a” sound.
Examples of “Rain” in Sentences
- It looks like it’s going to rain tomorrow, so I’m just going to stay inside and read all day.
- The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself!)
- Farmers all over the U.S. are hoping for measurable rain to help their crops grow with a showering of water during this dry season.
- Good luck is going to rain down over you soon; I just know it.
- We must wait out this rain storm before leaving the building.
Examples of “Reign” in Sentences
- Queen Elizabeth’s reign lasted for over 68 impressive years.
- Candace Osmond’s Ironworld series has an evil queen who reigns over the land of Faerie.
- During his reign, Napoleon Bonaparte conquered so much of Europe; it’s hard to even fathom.
- The reign of terror during the French Revolution resulted in thousands of deaths.
- Reign is one of my favorite T.V. shows where a kickass queen rules.
Examples of “Rein” in Sentences
- The rider had to make a tight rein on the leather strap to slow the horse down.
- It’s important to rein in your spending if you want to save money.
- Our coach needs to rein in the other players’ aggressive behavior on the field if we don’t want to get kicked from the league.
Rein, Rain, Reign on Me
Now that we’ve covered the differences between the similar-sounding terms rain, reign, and rein, you can use these words with total confidence and avoid embarrassing mix-ups. Just remember that rein is to pull back on something or a narrow strap on horses, reign is ruling, and rain is, well, anything falling down from the sky or down around you.