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Ask a Teacher: Raise or Rise?

Ask a Teacher: Raise or Rise?
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Have you ever been confused by the verbs “raise” and “rise”? Both words mean “to move upward." They also sound similar. But we don’t use them in the same way.

Adriana from Uruguay says:


I would like to know the difference in meaning between “raise” and “rise” and when to use one or the other. I asked this question to a U.S. citizen and she could not tell me the answer. – Adriana, Uruguay


Hello Adriana and thanks for writing to us!

That is a great question and something many English learners wonder about. The short answer is that “raise” is a transitive verb and “rise” is intransitive. I’ll tell you what that means in a moment.

But, as you saw, many native English speakers might not be able to describe that difference. I suspect the same is true for you in Spanish – the right words just come at the right time, perhaps without you knowing the technical reason.

To answer your question more fully, let me begin by giving you the dictionary meanings of each verb:

To raise means to lift or move something or someone upward. It also means to increase.

To rise means to move upward or to increase.

Notice that “raise” includes the words “something” and “someone.” That’s the big difference between the two. With “raise,” something is causing the upward movement of something else, whereas with “rise,” the cause is not stated.


“Raise” is a transitive verb, which means it takes a direct object. A direct object is a person or thing that receives the action of the verb. Here is an example:

Adriana raised her hand when she had a question.

Here, the subject (Adriana) is causing the object (her hand) to move upward. Here’s another example:

The restaurant raised dinner prices for Valentine’s Day.

The subject (the restaurant) is causing the object (dinner prices) to increase.


On the other hand, “rise” is intransitive. It is never followed by a direct object. Here’s an example:

Warm air rises.

Here's another example:

Swedish stocks rose after the election Monday.

Looking at the stocks example, we can see there is a cause for the rise of stocks, but we do not directly state it in the subject-verb-object way do with "raise."

Notice that the past tense of “rise” is “rose.” That’s because the verb is irregular: rise, rose, risen. But, “raise” is regular: raise, raised, raised.

Do you have a question for Ask a Teacher? Write to us in the Comments area. Be sure to list your country!

And that’s Ask a Teacher.

I’m Alice Bryant.


Words in This Story

moment n. a very short period of time

dictionary n. a reference book that contains words listed in alphabetical order and gives the words' meanings, forms and pronunciations

stock n. a share of the value of a company which can be bought, sold, or traded as an investment