I came across this sentence.

  • it is sound of a heavy rain.

So why isn’t this way:

it is sound of heavy raining.

I used raining instead of rain because, I think, rain fits more into the context, and raining depicts the process of rain coming down.

  • when do we use articles before rain?
  • it is sound of a heavy rain
  • 4
    "It is sound of a heavy rain" is ungrammatical as a standalone sentence, because we need an article before sound. – CowperKettle Feb 17 '18 at 7:49

In this sentence:

It is the sound of a heavy rain.

the idea is that this particular sound can be identified as the sound of an instance of rain which is heavy relative to other rainfalls. The indefinite article specifies "instance" or "generic/paradigmatic instance".

So the sentence is not about the ongoingness of the rain, but the sort of rain the rain is.


It was the yippy bark of a small dog.


The yippy barking made it hard to concentrate on her algebra homework.

In the first sentence, the type of bark is being identified: it belongs to a small breed of dog. In the second sentence, the ongoing/repetitive aspect of the bark is being emphasized.

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  • Is writing "heavy raining" correct? – confused guy Feb 18 '18 at 16:09
  • heavy raining is not what native speakers would call a downpour. They would call it a heavy rain or they would say it is raining heavily. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Feb 18 '18 at 16:46

of is a preposition, and prepositions must be followed by a noun. With many verbs, you can make a noun-form (called a gerund) by adding -ing to the verb. Generally we only do this when there isn't already a suitable noun. English people like to talk about rain, so there are many suitable nouns, and at least two are suitable: rain and rainfall. It therefore isn't necessary (and sounds wrong) to use the gerund of heavy raining.

We use a before a singular, countable noun to indicate that we are referring to a non-specific whatever-it-is.

For non-countable nouns like rain (note the U after noun in this definition), we don't normally put a in front of it:

it is the sound of heavy rain

The exception is if we wish to refer to a non-specific example of a particular type of something. Here is another example where a non-count noun is qualified by an adjective:

The colour of old claret
The colour of an old claret

The first sentence suggests that there are many types of claret, that old claret is one of these types, and that it has a particular colour. The second sentence further suggests that there are many types of old claret, but any non-specific one of them has (within reasonable limits) this particular colour.

In your sentence, a heavy rain suggests that there are many types of heavy rain, but they all have (within reasonable limits) the same sound. While this meaning is possible, it is, in my opinion, unlikely.

storm is countable (note the C in this definition), so for a non-specific storm you would always include an indefinite article a:

it is the sound of a heavy storm

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  • You're correct in all the rest of your answer, but as the other answer indicates, "it is the sound of a heavy rain" also is correct; its meaning is different to that of "it is the sound of heavy rain". I downvoted accordingly. Compare "it is the taste of a delicious food": both "it is the taste of delicious food" and "it is the taste of a delicious food" are correct, with slightly different meanings. The first emphasises an identification of the category of taste; the second emphasises a more specific identification of the food as being some particular delicious thing. – Patrick Stevens Feb 17 '18 at 15:20
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    @PatrickStevens, I have updated my answer. – JavaLatte Feb 17 '18 at 22:56

If you catch some rain in a glass and take it inside, you have a glass full of rain, however there will be no raining at all inside that glass.

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  • I would call this "rainy water". – confused guy Feb 18 '18 at 16:12

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