It’s raining, it’s pouring, the old man is snoring,
He went to bed and he bumped his head and he didn’t get up ’til the morning.
Adam Gopnik once described Paris as “a scowling gray universe, relieved by pastry.” The “gray” part comes from the observation that it’s very often cloudy here. Actually, one of the things that I love about Paris is that it rains here. In the US, I live in a very sunny, dry part of the country–300 days of sunshine a year. However, I grew up in a very, very wet part of the country, and I miss that. So, coming to Paris in March and seeing flowers bursting from wet earth on my walk to work through the forest is a real treat.
Being from a very wet place, I have a large vocabulary for talking about rain in English. Here are some examples of relevant verbs. These are all impersonal verbs, using what linguists call a pleonastic pronoun, i.e. it’s:
- to rain: the default verb.
- to pour: to rain hard–see the children’s song above.
- to rain cats and dogs: to rain hard.
- to rain/pour buckets: to rain hard.
- to mist: to rain very lightly.
- to drizzle: to rain, especially if it’s cold. (I’ve seen a couple definitions of this as “to rain lightly.”)
- to sprinkle: to rain, especially for a short period of time.
- to storm: to rain very hard, often with thunder and lightning.
- If it rains tomorrow, the game will be cancelled. (http://forum.wordreference.com/threads/if-it-rains-its-raining.1045608/)
- It’s pouring outside. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Gsdme47oUw)
- It’s raining cats and dogs. (http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/14273/the-etymology-of-the-phrase-its-raining-cats-and-dogs)
- After lunching, Caesar went out to post some cards, and as it was raining buckets, he took refuge in the arcades of the Piazza Esedra — Caesar or Nothing by Pio Baroja
- It misted in the morning, but by noon it was clear. (https://www.google.fr/search?q=%22it+misted%22&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&gws_rd=cr&ei=xC8fV_nGMMLYgAaktIS4Bg)
- Five activities for Paris when it drizzles (Note: it is NOT Paris that is drizzling!) (http://www.eurocheapo.com/blog/paris-in-the-rain-5-activities-for-paris-when-it-drizzles.html)
- My mom told me it’s sprinkling, not raining. (Two adorable kids argue about whether it’s raining or sprinkling: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sKdDyyanGk)
- It stormed for hours, and when the thunder and lightning finally quit, it just kept on pouring. I got scared. (Click here–very long URL.)
- pleuvoir: to rain. Il pleut: it’s raining. (I always seem to confuse this with il pleure, “he’s crying.”
- Il pleut à verse: it’s pouring. (Native speakers: can we do the liaison here?, i.e. il pleu tà verse?)
- Il pleut des cordes: it’s raining cats and dogs, it’s pouring rain.
- Il tombe des cordes: same thing.
- Il bruine: it’s misting.
- Il crachine: it’s sprinkling.
- y avoir de l’orage: to storm.
- faire de l’orage: to storm.