One of my grammar books suggest that this question is incorrect and should always be " has it been raining" because rain can have multiple consequences.

Some native speakers have told me that " has it rained" sounded unnatural to them and one argued that it forced her to assume what timeframe the speaker was referring to. Others said they didn't feel like it was wrong.

2 Answers 2


Apparently a lot of grammar books tell you things that aren't true. "Has it rained?" is perfectly fine grammar with a clear meaning in the proper context. And, as is often the case, context is everything.

If you ask that question "out of the blue", with no indication as to the time frame you're speaking of, it's ambiguous, since one would ask "Since when?" But, eg, if you called your brother yesterday, and he said it hasn't rained for weeks but they're expecting some rain that night, calling today and asking "Has it rained?" is perfectly meaningful.

  • Thank you. I was pretty sure it was correct too but needed clarification. But let's say I go to someone's town and see that the ground is wet. I guess that " did it rain" and " has it been raining" would be the best choices but could "has it rained" ever work in that context?
    – Familitchi
    Jul 26, 2016 at 21:08
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    The situation that immediately came into my head was someone who's been out of town since last night and notices that the grass is wet (or something like that)—also a perfectly natural question to ask in that situation. Jul 26, 2016 at 21:09
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    "Did it rain?" and "Has it rained?" mean essentially the same thing.
    – Hot Licks
    Jul 26, 2016 at 21:10
  • @HotLicks: Not in British English. If your brother was planning to host a barbecue today, and yesterday he said "I hope it doesn't rain", then you would ask "Did it rain?", meaning "Did it rain on your barbecue?" The question "Has it rained?" means "Has it rained since we last spoke?" Of course, in British English such questions are rhetorical: the answer is "Yes".
    – TonyK
    Jul 27, 2016 at 0:52
  • @TonyK - Yes, as always context is king.
    – Hot Licks
    Jul 27, 2016 at 2:00

The primary meaning of the verb 'rain' is to fall as drops of water from the clouds. Has it rained? means whether this has happened. Has it been raining? means whether it has happened and also continues to happen. This verb can be used like any other verb. The problems are mostly illogical and imaginary.

  • It feels like a lot of grammar books ( especially higher education books) take things a little too far at times and make up problems that don't exist or just turn some things that are pretty simple into complex problems.
    – Familitchi
    Jul 26, 2016 at 21:14

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