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Hi there! Remember me? I'm Yentelman, the blogger who's been helping Spanish students with their English (and even their Spanish!) for quite a few years now. I'm back at Ginseng English to try and teach you the differences between a trio of confusing words. As an English teacher whose mother tongue is Spanish, I am well aware which words students of English struggle with. Been there, done that myself!

Today's confusing words are three common verbs: rise, arise and raise. Look at them. Just look at them. They look like they're actually mocking you, don't they? They are like, "We’re so confusing that you'll never use us right!" Well, let's prove them wrong!

The Sun Also  Rises  - Ernest Hemingway

The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway



How about  the cocktail of the same name?  Yeah, I thought so.

How about the cocktail of the same name? Yeah, I thought so.

Pronounced /raɪz/, its simple past is rose and past participle risen when it's working as a verb. When I try to use this one properly, I always link it to the noun sun. It's a perfect collocation, actually. You may remember it from such books as Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. You don't? OK, what about the movie, Tequila Sunrise? No? C'mon guys, the one with Mel Gibson? Michelle Pfeiffer? An all-slicked-back Kurt Russell? OK, whatever.

Anyway, the point I am trying to make is that, if you remember rise with sun, it will be easier for you to distinguish rise from the other two verbs that are going to show up here. You can also tell the difference between rise and raise in that the former is an intransitive verb, i.e. it's not followed by a direct object. For example, keeping with the sun topic, in the sentence:

The sun rises in the east.

We can clearly see the verb rise is not followed by an object (a noun or pronoun). If you have no direct object, you need rise, not raise.

Rise can also be used to indicate that something abstract is going up, as for example in

Gas prices are rising again!

I bet it was not the only thing that  rose ...

I bet it was not the only thing that rose...

This sense can convey a positive meaning when we are speaking, for instance, of moods or expectations.

My expectations rose when the pretty blonde girl at the bar looked at me.

You may have noticed that in the two examples above the meanings of rise were, respectively, "to ascend above the horizon", and "to increase in degree, intensity, or force". I'm crediting Dictionary.com for the meanings, and if you bother to look at the definitions they give of rise, you'll see there are more than 50!

So, you reaaaally need to observe each context properly when you are going to use any of the three verbs in this post. As long as you remember rise is intransitive and you pay good attention to what goes after the verb, you should be good to go. If in doubt, check a good dictionary.

I'll wrap up this section saying that rise can also be a noun. As is the case of the verb, its meaning is related to ascending or increasing. We can also use it to talk about value, prices, or temperature, as in the following example:

Sam couldn't help complaining about the rise in temperature. What did he expect of our holidays in Mount Doom?


You should be able to easily distinguish raise (/reɪz/)  from rise if you just remember raise is transitive, which means it will be followed by a direct object.

The student raised his hand to answer the question.

As you can see in the example, raise is followed by the direct object, his hand. Remember you can find out whether there's a direct object after the verb in a sentence by asking the verb, "what?" What did the student raise? His hand. There you go. We have a direct object, so you need to use raise, not rise.

Raise Rise and Arise
Base Verb Pronunciation Simple Past Perfect
rise /raɪz/ rose risen
raise /reɪz/ raised raised
arise /əˈraɪz/ arose arisen

Another thing you may have noticed in the above example is the verb is in the simple past, ending in -ed. This could be another hint to help you distinguish between the two confusing verbs. While rise is irregular, raise is regular and both its past and past participle end in -ed. Check out the chart for a conjugation of all three verbs.

A random worker in the USA.

A random worker in the USA.

Raise can be a noun, too, especially talking about salaries, as in the following example:

I hate that bastard Pete. He's been given yet another pay rise. It's his third this year, for fuck's sake!

I'd ask you to pardon my French (or my English in this case), but I always try to use real-life examples. Now I think of it, has anybody been given a pay raise in real life? Not here in Spain, that's for sure...


Last but not least, we have a third verb: arise. Everything seems to hint that there are plenty of similarities with rise: it is also intransitive, irregular (with a past and past participle forms that are very similar to those of rise: arose and arisen) and it's also pronounced similarly: /əˈraɪz/. One would say it's just rise with an a- at the beginning of the word.

And its meaning? While it's true that it can replace rise, meaning "to get up from sitting, lying, or kneeling", this usage is fairly outdated and only used in very formal contexts.

"Arise, Lord Snow!" - Said Queen Daenerys after Jon Snow had bent his knee.

Always. Just in case.

Always. Just in case.

When do we use arise, then? Mainly when we want to convey the meaning of something coming into being, originating or occurring. That "something" will usually be a problem, an occasion, a necessity, a situation or difficulty of some sort, etc. Even in this context, arise is a verb with quite an abstract meaning, indicating that something not only becomes evident but people are also aware of it happening.

The opportunity arose for Rick to purchase a 1554 Spanish shipwreck gold bar.