I know "It's raining" and "It's snowing" are commonly accepted English phrases. Now does the same form apply to other forms of precipitation?

Are these normal English expressions?

If not, how does one describe the state of these falling currently?

  • 2
    Graupeling, despite its listing in wikipedia, is so exceedingly rare that using it in general conversation is not likely to be understood at all. Jan 27 '13 at 18:18
  • "It's sleeting" and "It's hailing" are perfectly natural, but will also be just as likely to be referred to in noun form when describing current outside conditions: "The hail is coming down hard", I can't see through the windshield because the sleet is so heavy"
    – Mitch
    Jan 27 '13 at 23:21
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    Graupeling? Wow, 37 years of speaking English and I've never heard that word before!
    – Groky
    Jan 29 '13 at 23:51

I have to post this because the only existing answer is misleading. Here's a more relevant NGram...

enter image description here

The reality is native speakers don't often say it's hailing/sleeting, even allowing for the fact that hail and sleet are less common that rain and snow. If you ask someone on the phone "What's the weather like?", they're more likely to reply with some alternative to avoid using those words as verbs - for example...

There's a hailstorm right now, or
It's snowing - well, more like sleet, actually.

That's not to say hailing or sleeting would mark you out as a non-native speaker - but it certainly wouldn't encourage people to think you are one.

As for graupeling, I would suggest that's a virtually unknown German term. Speaking as an Englishman, obviously I talk about the weather all the time, but I didn't even know the word until now.

EDIT: I originally answered because the earlier answer used a misleading search term (as an isolated word, hailing is far more likely to be used to mean calling, so most instances are "false positives"). Obviously the main reason for different levels of usage is hail is uncommon relative to snow and rain.

Possibly because it's relatively uncommon (in UK SE we only get a few hailstorms a year, that rarely last long), I perceive it hailed earlier as very slightly "marked" compared to there was a hailstorm earlier. By the same token, I myself would tend to say "There was thunder" rather than "It was thundering".

The verb forms to hail (and perhaps to a lesser extent to sleet) aren't particularly unusual. In fact they're probably used more often in creative fiction than actual weather patterns would justify, for the sake of atmospheric effect. The "strangeness" of using these verbs in speech may depend on local climate.

  • 1
    ...also (perhaps this needs to be raised in meta) I think it's not helpful for a Learners site to make much of linguistic forms which do occur, but are uncommon. Jan 27 '13 at 22:40
  • 1
    OK, but 'it is hailing' is very natural to me, a native speaker (exactly the kind of perspetive the OP wants), despite it not being as common as 'it is snowing'. Lesson: interpreting data from nGrams is difficult.
    – Mitch
    Jan 27 '13 at 23:17
  • 1
    Most people wouldn't specify that is was snowing outside, because it does not normally snow inside. Additionally, hailing is fairly common in the United States.
    – ctype.h
    Jan 28 '13 at 1:44
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    There may be a US-UK split here, judging by the commentary. Jan 28 '13 at 2:30
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    Speaking as an Englishman, obviously I talk about the weather all the time, but I didn't even know the word until now. :) +1 for this!
    – Mistu4u
    Jan 28 '13 at 5:37

Hailing is frequently used. Sleeting is also used, but is less common. Graupeling is extremely rare and should probably be avoided.

The reason hailing may be less common than raining or snowing is that hail does not fall as frequently as rain or snow. However, saying, "It's hailing." sounds very natural to native speakers. Personally, I have never heard anyone say, "It's sleeting." I never heard of graupel until reading the above question. Most of the people I know would probably call it hail.

See Google Ngram Viewer (1750-2000): raining, snowing, hailing, sleeting, graupeling:


  • nGram of "Hailing" alone isn't telling much; Usage like "The centurions are hailing the Caesar" is probably more frequent than weather-related.
    – SF.
    Jan 27 '13 at 12:23
  • 1
    @SF. I didn't think about the other usage, but saying, "It's hailing" when there is a hailstorm is quite common, at least where I live.
    – ctype.h
    Jan 28 '13 at 0:12
  • It is common here too.
    – Gaff
    Feb 3 '13 at 19:20
  • I always thought the word sleeting was incorrect (I've never heard anyone use it) and have formed my sentence to use the word sleet. From now on I shall use the word sleeting more often! Dec 12 '14 at 14:53

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