English is Weird
Everyone wants easy English. But English is not an easy language. English can be weird. In the UK our weather can be weird too. It changes a lot. It is hot one day and cold the next day.
A few years ago, my cousins from Canada decided to visit the UK. They wanted to know what the weather would be like in June. But I could not tell them, because I did not know. I told them to bring clothes to keep them warm and clothes to keep them cool. But I also told them to bring a waterproof coat. The one thing I did know was that it would rain. It rains a lot in the UK.
So, you would expect to hear us talking a lot about rain in the UK. We do. But remember, English is weird. And if you hear the word ‘rain’, people in the UK (and US) will not always be talking about rain!
To Speak Like a Native English Speaker, You Need to Understand Idioms
Native English speakers often use idioms in their speech. Idioms are words and phrases where the meaning is not clear from the individual words. Native English speakers use idioms in informal situations, not business situations.
Here are 6 idioms about rain. Try using one of these idioms when you talk to someone in English.
1. Come rain or shine.
This phrase means that you promise to do something whatever happens.
I could say, ‘I will visit you come rain or shine.’ This could mean that I will visit you whether it is good or bad weather. But it means more than that. It means ‘I will visit you whatever happens.’ It is a definite promise.
“I know you have been busy lately, but I would love to see you.”
“Don’t worry, next week, I will visit you come rain or shine!”
2. It never rains but it pours (UK)
When it rains, it pours (US).
If one bad thing happens and then more bad things happen, you might use this idiom. If bad or inconvenient things happen again and again you might say, ‘oh dear, it never rains but it pours.’
This idiom has absolutely nothing to do with the weather – it could be a bright sunny day and you would still say, ‘it never rains but it pours.’
So, if one sunny day a person could not get his car to start, then his computer went wrong, and then he had a power cut, he might say ‘it never rains but it pours’.
“How was your day?”
“Horrible! My power was out so my alarm didn’t ring, then my motorbike wouldn’t start, and I was late for a really important test! When it rains, it pours!”
3. Save it for a rainy day.
This means to save money or another resource for a future unknown and unexpected need.
If a person’s motorbike broke down and she faced a big bill to repair it, she would be glad if she had saved money for a rainy day.
“Are you going to be able to afford a new computer?”
“Yes, thankfully, I’ve been saving for a rainy day!”
4. Be as right as rain
This means to feel well. Nothing to do with rain!
For example, if I have been sick but am beginning to feel a little better, I might say, ‘I’ll be as right as rain next week’. I am believing that I will feel back to normal next week. And next week I could say ‘I’m feeling as right as rain’ – meaning that I am feeling perfectly fit and well.
“How are you feeling?”
“Better thank you. I think next week I’ll be right as rain.”
5. Take a rain check
This is something that you say when you can’t accept someone’s invitation to something. But it also means that you would like to accept that invitation on another occasion.
Imagine a friend asks you to meet her for coffee. Now imagine you want to go, but you can’t go. You are already busy that day. You might say something like, ‘I’ll take a rain check on that, as I am already busy that day.’ You would mean that you cannot go to coffee on the day your friend suggested because you are already busy. But your friend would understand that you also mean you would like to go for coffee with her on another occasion.
“We haven’t seen each other in a long time. Can you come for dinner tomorrow?”
“Actually, I have tickets to a concert tomorrow. Can I take a rain check?”
6. Raining cats and dogs
In this final idiom, I have a surprise for you. The word ‘rain’ really does mean rain. But cats and dogs are not falling from the sky!
If I say, ‘It is raining cats and dogs.’ I mean ‘It is raining very hard’. It is not just a light shower; it is a very heavy downpour.
“Wow, look at the sky!”
“I think it will be raining cats and dogs soon!”
BONUS TIP – In the UK we talk about the weather a lot. We always have something to say about it, because it is always changing. So, if you visit the UK, and you want to sound like a native, the weather is a great topic of conversation.
Perhaps your friends will be surprised by these idioms too. You could ask your friends what they think these idioms mean. Then you can amaze your friends by explaining the meaning of these idioms.
Did these idioms surprise you? Which idiom did you think was the strangest?