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I have a question about "freeze" as in weather conditions.

It is perfectly normal to say:

it rains a lot in Holland

it has been raining a lot lately

it rained last night

if I want to express these conditions with "freeze" are the same constructions possible?

Is it ideomatic to say:

it freezes a lot in Holland

it froze last night

it has been freezing a lot lately?

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  • I'm not sure what freeze means exactly so I don't think it's a good thing to say. If you said it to me I would ask you to provide more details as to what exactly you were telling me. Does it get below 0 often? Does it get icy? Does it get below -5 often? If the weather is dry and gets below 0 is that freezing or does it need to be wet and below 0? In U.S. freezing is a general term for very cold but it has no quantifiable boundaries.
    – EllieK
    Feb 2 '21 at 14:52
  • I mean "below zero" when water freezes.
    – anouk
    Feb 2 '21 at 14:54
  • It's not something that is generally discussed in relation to the weather in the U.S. We are more apt to discuss it being icy. Freezing happens at 32 degrees for us so it's just not as exiting or important. And the water on a road doesn't really freeze at 0C so no one ever really knows when the water starts freezing. The question is Is it icy?
    – EllieK
    Feb 2 '21 at 14:57
  • So how would you express my sentences?
    – anouk
    Feb 2 '21 at 14:58
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    Or 'We had freezing temperatures last night'. 'We have had a lot of freezing weather lately'. Feb 2 '21 at 17:49
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People would understand you but an alternative uses the word frost.

it freezes a lot in Holland

We get a lot of frosts in Holland

it froze last night

There was a frost last night

it has been freezing a lot lately?

We have had a lot of frosts lately

In the UK the television weather forecasts usually speak of the danger of overnight frosts rather than overnight freezing. You can also extend this by speaking a a hard frost or a sharp frost in any of the examples above. There are also ground frosts and air frosts but that perhaps strays into technical territory.

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    Frost is definitely the better choice. I will not need to ask what is meant by that. However, I will associate Frost with danger to ground plants and not the formation of ice on roads or sidewalks. In my experience frost does not necessarily lead to ice.
    – EllieK
    Feb 2 '21 at 16:35
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Unlike It rained yesterday or It snowed yesterday, it's not very idiomatic to say It froze yesterday - we nearly always say It was freezing yesterday.

By the same token, we wouldn't usually say It freezes a lot in Holland. Idiomatically, we'd more naturally express that with something like...

1: It's often freezing in Holland
or
2: They often have [hard] frost[s] in Holland

Note that it's freezing usually just means it's very cold - not necessarily with specific relevance to water turning into ice. So the second version above is the one the weather forecasters use if they're warning you that the temperature is expected to drop below 0°C (so you might want to protect your delicate plants, outside water pipes, or whatever).

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    Yes. Where freezing is a general reference to temperature and not the formation of ice. I don't often think of 30F as freezing.
    – EllieK
    Feb 2 '21 at 15:06
  • You need much more roundabout phrasing to say anything more detailed / accurate than just freezing = very cold. Most people in Holland probably live in urban areas, where there's excess heat and crud on the pavements / salt on the roads, so you might not see any ice even if the actual temperature was well below 0 °C. Come to that, snow is "frozen water", and it can often snow when the ground temperature is well above freezing (it just melts instead of "settling"). Mostly in such contexts, freezing is a rather "imprecise" term. Feb 2 '21 at 15:12
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    (Witness all the people who've ever said I'm freezing! If they were literally freezing, they wouldn't be able to speak, and couldn't possibly survive the experience! :) Feb 2 '21 at 15:14
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    @anouk I would express it exactly as you have. The temperature dropped below freezing last night. That will be understood and is a very common way to express it. Keep it mind that is not the same as saying It was freezing last night, which means it was very cold, without consideration of the freezing point of water. As stated, it's just not that common to talk about the temperature dropping below freezing. It has very little impact on day to day life.
    – EllieK
    Feb 2 '21 at 16:29
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    @EllieK: Of course, something we often say in this context is There was a [hard] frost last night (nearly always with the indefinite article). But we'd rarely say There was rain last night (and there's almost never an article there), because that one is invariably expressed as It rained last night. That's the point I'm trying to get across here - there's no natural usage of the general form It xxxxed last night for "freeze" the way there is for "rain, snow, hail". Feb 2 '21 at 17:05

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