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Grammar Rant of the Day: REIGN vs. REIN

Grammar Rant of the Day: REIGN vs. REIN

Recently I wrote about the words peak, peek, and pique, and when to use them. Another common word mixup I encounter is between REIGN and REIN.

Romanian crownThe verb REIGN means to rule as a monarch. The noun REIGN means the time when a particular monarch rules. Here’s how to use “reign” correctly:

The king reigned for 30 years.

His reign was marked by relative peace and the flourishing of the comic book trade.

In that era the comic book reigned supreme.

Hint: Think of the “G” as standing for King George.

 

horse faceREINS, on the other hand, are the straps that a rider uses to control a horse.

To “rein in” a horse means to pull on its reins, causing it to slow down. So the phrase is “rein it in” — NOT “reign it in.” If you’re reining something in, you’re doing to it what a rider would do to a runaway horse.

Here’s how to use “rein” correctly:

I can’t keep eating six meals a day. I’ve got to rein it in here.

The devil keeps a firm grip on the reins of the Prada company.

 

This has been your grammar rant of the day!

 

Header and crown images are public domain due to expiration of copyright. Via Wikimedia Commons. Horse photograph by Simon Harrod.

Peak, peek, or pique?

Peak, peek, or pique?

These three words are very often confused. If I could draw, I’d make an awesome grammar cartoon about them, like Matthew Inman at The Oatmeal, but since I can’t, I’ll have to settle for example sentences about Martian underwear.

PEAK mountain peakmeans the tippety top of a mountain; it can also mean reaching a metaphorical peak.

He climbed to the peak of the mountain, only to realize he’d forgotten his camera phone.

The number of mosquitos in the yard peaks at whatever time you want to host a barbeque.

PEEK means to peer or peep, like a creepy stalker, or to show a little bit.peeking

He peeked through the window, hoping for a glimpse of extraterrestrials.

A bit of Martian lace peeked through the gap in the wall, promising more exciting views on the other side.

piquePIQUE means to heighten interest. This is the one that’s often forgotten — I’ve read “peaked my interest,” or even “my curiosity peaked.” Both of these sort of make sense if you think about them, but the correct phrase is actually “piqued my interest.” Think of food that’s piquant — spicy and fascinating.

The Martian lace peeking through the crack at the peak of the roof really piqued Martin’s interest.

This has been your grammar rant of the day.