Raise vs. Rise

By Maeve Maddox

A recent headline in my morning paper declares:

Local Unemployment Rate Raises to 4.8 percent

Both as verbs and as nouns, raise and rise are used in many contexts, sometimes overlapping, but in the context of this newspaper headline, the verb should be rise.

In standard usage, raise is transitive (takes an object) and rise is intransitive (no object). I suppose I’d better add, “usually,” to avoid the inevitable, “well, what about such and such?”

To use raise to describe rates, someone or something must act as agent:

The Fed decided to raise interest rates.
The closing of three factories raised local unemployment rates.

The headline requires intransitive rise: Local Unemployment Rate Rises to 4.8 percent.

Both verbs occur in numerous idioms. Here are a few. Most require no explanation.

Idioms with “to raise”:
raise from the dead
raise a ruckus (make a disturbance)
raise blood pressure
raise cattle (breed cattle) raise children (bring up children) People commonly talk about “raising children” or “raising a family.” When I was in school, my English teachers corrected this usage, saying, “You raise chickens, but you rear children.” As far as I can ascertain, no such distinction exists.
raise game (cause game animals to show themselves)
raise a response (in the context of getting an answer from someone on a two-way radio)
raise a mob (stir up people to riot)
raise an army (gather an army)
raise a barn (construct a barn) In pioneer times in the U.S., “barn raisings” were social events at which the men helped the host build a barn while the women prepared a feast.
raise one’s spirits
raise money
raise a blister (new shoes may raise a blister on one’s heel)
raise one’s voice
raise a laugh (cause amusement)
rise to the occasion (prove oneself capable)

Note: Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead: transitive verb with agent and direct object. Jesus rose from the dead: intransitive verb rise because the subject is the doer and there is no object.)

Idioms with “to rise”:
rise early (wake and get out of bed)
rise from the dead
rise and shine (wake up and get busy)
rise in the world (improve one’s social and financial position)
All rise! (Spoken by a bailiff as a judge enters the courtroom or prepares to leave)
rise against (rebel)
rise above adversity
rise in someone’s opinion

When wind rises, it increases in intensity.
Rivers rise at their sources.
Fish rise to the surface of a lake.
Buildings rise as they are being built.
Water rises.
Dough rises.
Smoke rises.

People who become angry when being deliberately taunted are said “to rise to the bait.”

And finally, something perceived as disgusting may “make one’s gorge rise.” For example, “The smell of onions made her gorge rise.” In this expression, gorge refers to stomach contents. I suppose that’s what the TV commercials mean by “acid reflux.”

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10 Responses to “Raise vs. Rise”

  • Dale A. Wood

    Quoting.
    “In standard usage, raise is transitive (takes an object) and rise is intransitive (no object).”

    At its roots, the problem is that millions of supposed college graduates – and high school graduates – do not know what the words “transitive” and “intransitive” mean. The problem is most salient among those who majored in journalism.

    By your note “takes an object”, I am supposing that you are including sentences in the passive voice. These do not have explicit objects.
    Also, I am assuming that by “object” you mean “direct object” and you are not considering indirect objects.

    I have M.S. degrees in engineering and in mathematics, and I believe in expressing things precisely, such as “direct object”, “indirect object”, “active voice”, and “passive voice”. I don’t find such concepts to be too difficult. Now try “electromagnetic propagation”. That’s hard!
    D.A.W.

  • Dale A. Wood

    Here’s a good example of the use of the verb “to rise”. It came from the title of a B-class movie and its subtitle that was added for advertising purposes:
    DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE:
    “You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down!”
    Here of couse, “risen” is the past participle of an intransitive verb.
    D.A.W.

  • Dale A. Wood

    Several of your so-called “idioms” with “raise” and “rise” are not idioms at all, but rather they are straightforward and reasonable uses of the verbs.
    Here are a few genuine idioms in English:
    1. To make one’s hair rise. (out of fright, for example)
    2. To make one’s dander rise.
    3. To make one’s temper rise.
    The key to an “idiom” is that is meaning cannot be deduced from a word-by-word reading or hearing. There is more to it than that.

    “George Washington is the Father of his country” is an idiom becauuse what he did does not have anything to do with the way that men and women produce real children by mating.

    “The Roman Empire ruled the world” is an idiom because it never did any such thing. Millions of people in China, Japan, and the Americas never heard of the Roman Empire, and the Roman Empire did not rule Scandinavia or southern Africa, either,
    D.A.W.

  • venqax

    So, “Rome wasn’t built in a day” is not an idiom because Rome really was not built in a single day. It was more like a couple of weeks, mostly waiting on the permits. Is that what you’re saying?

    Also, it really DOES take 2 to tango, at least very well at all. No idiom– FACT!

  • venqax

    The example, “Local Unemployment Rate Raises to 4.8 percent” actually RAISES an even worse issue than bad grammar. Since unemployment rates rising is a strong idiom, which is being violated here, we have to wonder not only whether the “journalist” or headline writer has any grammatical sense or training, but whether he even speaks English. That is a mistake one wouldn’t expect from a person with bad grammar, but one who is ESL. Can you borrow me a pencil for to rewrite my headline?

  • Roberta B.

    I love reading about the use of idioms – Rise and Shine (like the sun), but what about the use of other tenses for these verbs, or even their use as adjectives. Speaking of Jesus……..the phase that makes me think twice is “He is risen.” Instinctively, present perfect comes to mind – He has risen. However, in this case, “risen” is an adjective.
    Some speculate that the translation was deliberately meant to convey that He rose, and remains in that state even now OR that it is an archaic use meant for a transitive action – i.e., Someone [God] took an action to raise Him [Jesus] [from a state of death]……but in that case it would be “He was raised.” I suppose it’s hard to tell with translations, especially over centuries where meaning of words and construction of language undergo an evolution and even mistakes can be perpetuated far beyond the memories of their origin.

    @DAW in your Dracula example above – He has risen – past participle in the present perfect. Am I right?

  • Alli

    Can you talk about why Americans say “I got a pay raise” whereas the English say “I got a pay rise”?

  • Roberta B.

    …….also the difference between rise and arise (if there is much of any).

  • venqax

    Rioberta B.:Rise is a verb and a noun, whereas as arise is only a verb. You don’t get an arise out of someone. So that’s one difference. And as a verb, only rise has the sense of generally going up, e.g. the unemployment rate does not arise, only reclining unemployed people can do that, I think. So that may be two.

    Alli: Those are simply idiomatic differences. One makes as much sense as the other depending on your assumptions. Your pay as been raised, and the level of your pay as seen a rise.

  • Debbie

    Funny that I stumbled on this on Easter Sunday. Let me just say that if you’re into the whole resurrection thing, Jesus rose from the dead, or God the Father raised Him from the dead. You can rise; you can be raised; but you can’t raise from the dead. This grammatical error irritates me every year! He rose. He has risen. He raised….what? Our expectations?

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