Raise vs Rise – What’s the difference?

The English language is full of homophones that never stop confusing us.

Ascent – Assent

Allusion – Illusion

Affect – Effect

The list goes on!

One such pair is ‘raise’ and ‘rise’. Both these words are used as nouns as well as verbs. As verbs, they both mean ‘to move upward’. So how do we know when to use what? Is there any difference?

Or, are they just mocking their users, ‘You are never going to master us!’

Well, much to our relief, there is a way to solve this puzzle! But first, we must know the meanings of these words.

Raise is a transitive verb that means ‘to move something upwards or lift something to a higher level. It needs an object (typically a noun) for reference without which the verb ‘raise’ will make no sense.

Incorrect: The students were instructed to raise if they agreed.

Correct: The students were instructed to raise their hands if they agreed.

Rise is an intransitive verb that means ‘something moves upwards or elevates itself’. It does not depend on an object to make sense.

Incorrect: The king rises his throne to greet the ambassadors.

Correct: The king rises from his throne to greet the ambassadors.

In academic writing, the word ‘rise’ is often used to indicate an increase in quantity.

For instance,

Blood sugar levels rise after having meals.


Water rises in a small capillary due to surface tension.

Here, the word ‘raise’ cannot be used as a substitute to ‘rise’, since the action is happening by itself. Nobody is ‘doing’ the action!

So what’s the trick to remember the difference?

Look for the object! When ‘raise’ or ‘rise’ is followed by an object, use ‘raise’ (something raises something).

When ‘raise’ or ‘rise’ is not followed by an object, use ‘rise’ (something rises).

Hope we could help you understand the difference between these two words. So the next time you’ve got to choose between the two, you would know what to do!

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