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Rise, arise and raise

Christel Delcoigne from Belgium writes:

Would you please be so kind as to explain the difference between the following verbs: rise and arise? Thank you so much.

Roger Woodham replies:
  Rise - rose - risen

Generally, if something rises it moves upwards. If you rise, this is a rather formal way of saying that you get of out bed, get up or stand up:

  • I needed to catch the 7.30, so I had risen early.

  • He rose to greet me when I entered his office.

When the sun and the moon rise, they appear in the sky. If the water in a river rises, it becomes higher. If the wind rises, it blows more strongly:

  • I hope to be out in the desert on my horse as the sun rises behind the Pyramids.

  • The water in the river had risen to a dangerous level and everyone had to be evacuated from the village.

  • The wind rose later in the night and kept me awake as it howled through the trees.

  • If an amount rises, it increases. If you get an increase in your wages or salary, this is also known as a rise. (In American English, it's known as a raise.) If you rise to a higher position in your organisation, you become more successful or powerful:

  • Inflation rose by 0.5 percent last year, the lowest increase since 1992.

  • Industrial use of oil rose by over 200 % in the 1970s whilst industrial use of coal fell by the same proportion.

  • I got a rise of over £4000 when I was promoted to a position of greater responsibility.

  • At the age of 32, she has risen to the top of her profession.


Arise - arose - arisen

Arise is mainly used in a more abstract way. If a situation or problem or something arises, it comes into being and people become aware of it:

  • I don't think the question of compensation will arise, but if it does, just give a vague reply.

  • I shall certainly go to Scotland next year, if the opportunity arises.

  • A problem has arisen with the TV that I bought last week. I can't get teletext.

We can also use arise to mean to get up, get out of bed or stand up, but it is even more formal than rise in this sense. Note that when a knighthood is bestowed in Britain, the monarch touches the recipient's shoulders with a sword and then says, e.g.

  • Arise, Sir William!

meaning that he, William, may now (a)rise from his kneeling position as a knight of the realm.

    Raise - raised - raised

If you raise something, you move it to a higher position. If you raise your voice, you speak more loudly. If you raise the standard of something, you improve it:

  • If you are in agreement with what Mr Jenkins has put to you, would you please raise your hand.

  • The flag on the roof of the palace is raised whenever the queen is in residence.

  • Amy was sitting at the back and had to raise her voice in order to be heard.

  • We want to raise standards of literacy in British schools. Make no mistake about it: standards will rise.

Note that raise is a regular verb, whereas rise is irregular. Note also that raise is a transitive verb, in other words, it must always be used with a direct object. You always raise something. Rise, on the other hand, is an intransitive verb: it does not involve anything or anyone other than the subject.

Note the following idiomatic expressions with raise:

to raise the alarm = warn people of danger

not to raise or lift a finger = do nothing to help

to raise a smile or a laugh = say something which makes people smile or laugh

to raise the roof = make a building reverberate with loud singing, shouting, clapping etc

  • I decided to raise the alarm and alerted the rescue services when my companions had not returned by nightfall.

  • His wife does everything around the house. He never raises / lifts a finger to help her.

  • I thought it was a good joke, but it didn't even raise a smile, let alone a laugh.

  • The female audience raised the roof when the boy band appeared on stage.

If you would like more practice more please visit our Message Board in the You, Me and Us part of our website.

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