The Plurals Are Rain and Snow

Here’s a look at your snows on your Saturday. We’re looking at wind-driven snows. Weather Channel, January 16, 2008. Although I saved these quotes for over a month before using them, I didn’t need to since this grammar error is a staple on the Weather Channel. It’s not just the Weather Channel personalities, however, who love to use rains and snows as the plurals of rain and snow; I hear this almost daily from both local and national weather personalities.

The plural of rain is rain, and the plural of snow is snow. Rain is water vapor that has condensed and is falling from the atmosphere (see, being married to a meteorologist has its great advantages!)—it is many, many, many droplets of this water vapor. You don’t need to say rains to describe the many, many, many droplets of water vapor.

Maybe the weather personalities are trying to describe rain that is falling in a variety of areas; however, whether it’s one area or more than one area, it’s still just rain, not rains. Rain is falling in New York. Rain is falling in New York, Minneapolis, and Seattle.

Maybe the weather personalities are trying to describe rain or snow that will be arriving in one particular area over an extended period of time, as in The rains are coming to Los Angeles. Instead, this should be, for example, The rainy season is beginning, bringing rain over the next few weeks or Several rain-bearing storm systems will move through Los Angeles in the next two weeks or There will be several storms over the next week, bringing rain.

The same is true for snow. Whether it’s snow in one area or snow all over the country, it’s still called snow, not snows. Snow will fall in New York. Snow will fall in New York, Aspen, and the Sierra.

Sherry

Sherry’s Grammar List and Paul’s book–Literally, the Best Language Book Ever

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One Response to The Plurals Are Rain and Snow

  1. John McIntyre says:

    Well, most of the time. But it would be a shame to give up Villon’s “Ou sont les neiges d’antan?” It’s usually translated, “Where are the snows of yesteryear?” But Richard Wilber got to the point more succinctly in his English version: “But where shall last year’s snow be fund?”

    Sherry’s reply: Yes, I agree. There are many differences between American English and other languages. In French, while the word for snow is neige, the plural snows is used in certain cases, for example, neiges eternelles, which means perpetual snow. Many other examples of differences between American English and other languages exist.

    To add to that, even in great American literature do we find an example: Hemingway’s The Snows of Kilimanjaro. Of course, throughout history, there have been examples of the use of non-standard and even substandard grammar in literature.

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