Know how to use rain, rein and reign

woman wearing black long sleeved blazer on white horse
Photo by Laila Klinsmann on

It’s spring in South Africa and in the season’s first flush, we had a smattering of rain.

That’s the stuff of celebration.

What’s not to celebrate is the state of our country’s newspapers.

But in the last half hour I was reminded that South Africa is not the only country suffering from a sub-standard education, leaving huge gaps for other organisations to pick up where school left off.

Some of the basics in language learning have been overlooked, well basic in my day….

So back to the rain.

You may know your rain from your rein, but do you know your rein from your reign?

I bet you do not.

Rein and reign are among the most-often confused word pairs that sound the same but have different spellings.

When you see the word, reign think queen, think dictator, think Donald Trump and Lionel Messi. These figures have reign – they have authority over people for a time or a reason or both – a time because a legal structure will dictate a president’s term; a reason: Lionel Messi through his superb skill as a player is the icon of soccer stardom.  During their reign they exert their power and influence over their followers.

An easy way to remember rein is to think of its origin in the plural – reins: thin leather straps attached around a horse’s neck to keep the animal under control.

Thus,  rein in means to take control.  For example: Jeanette had to rein in her young triples as they ran into the street. Or: Many on twitter would like to tighten the rein on Donald Trump’s tweets. You could also say Donald Trump holds the reins to America’s fortunes.



Iza Grek

Iza is an award-winning journalist. She has worked in advertising and communications for more than 20 years. A Word or 2 has been in operation since October 2014 and continues to thrive, serving customers writing and editing services across the board from blogs to speeches and e-books.