Word Choice: Rays, Raise or Raze?
  • 3-minute read
  • 26th September 2020

Word Choice: Rays, Raise or Raze?

The words “rays,” “raise,” and “raze” all sound the same. They mean completely different things, though, so you won’t want to mix them up! To learn how to use these words in your writing, check out our guide below.

Rays (Plural of “Ray”)

“Rays” is the plural of “ray.” It is used to refer to beams of light or heat:

The sun’s UV rays are most intense in the middle of the day.

“Rays” are also a type of flat fish, including manta rays and stingrays:

Rays are closely related to skates and sharks.

In all cases, though, “rays” is a plural noun.

A manta ray
Flat, but cute.
(Photo: jermainewill)

Raise (Lift, Increase, and More)

As a verb, “raise” has several meanings. These include:

  • Lift or elevate (e.g., The student raised his hand)
  • Increase (e.g., The government will raise taxes this year)
  • Build or erect (e.g., The town raised a statue in her honor)
  • Collect (e.g., Raising funds for charity)
  • Cause something to exist (e.g., The discovery raises further questions)
  • Bring up or grow (e.g., I am raising my three grandchildren)

The only use of “raise” that is not a verb relates to the second meaning above. In this case, “raise” is a noun that refers to an increase in salary:

I got a raise today!

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In all other cases, though, “raise” is a verb.

Raze (Destroy)

Another verb, “raze” means “destroy something completely”:

The village was razed to the ground.

This is the opposite of “raise” in the sense of “build”! But since “raze” with a “z” only has this one use, you should be able to remember what it means.

Summary: Rays, Raise, or Raze?

To make sure you use the correct word in your writing, remember:

  • Rays is a plural noun that refers to beams of light/heat or a type of fish.
  • Raise is almost always a verb, meaning “lift,” “increase,” “build” or “cause to exist.” It can also be a noun meaning “an increase in salary.”
  • Raze is a verb that means “destroy something completely.”

If you struggle with these words, remember that “rays” refers to beams and fish, and that “raze” means “destroy.” In all other cases, you can use “raise.”

And for more help with word choice and spelling, or any other aspect of your writing, why not submit a free 500-word sample for proofreading today?

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