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Lightning and Lightening

Difference between Lightning and Lightening

Lightning and lightening is a set of homophones. They confuse many non-native English speakers and writers a lot. As you know the correct choice of words is very important in effective writing. This post will you not to confuse these words again.

When to Use Lightning

Lightning is a natural phenomenon which refers to the abrupt flash of light which is associated with thunder. It is actually an electric discharge which is discontinuous in nature. It is a bolt of bright light. It can act both as a noun and an adjective.

As a noun, lightning means an electric discharge which we see during a thunderstorm. For example,

  • Lightning usually strikes the tallest things first.
  • It was raining cats and dogs, and in brief flashes of lightning, she saw a stranger walking in the yard.
  • She was never afraid of lightning.
  • Electricity is really just organized lightning. George Carlin

As an adjective, lightning refers to anything having an unusually high speed. For example,

  • Today most of the telecommunication companies give you a lightning fast internet.
  • He caught the glass with a lightning speed before it hit the floor.

When to Use Lightening

Lightening is the present participle form of the verb ‘lighten’ and it refers to making something lighter in color. It is the opposite of darkening. For example,

  • She is thinking of lightening her hair again.
  • I think my room needs lightening, so I am painting it white.

Lightening also means to become lighter in weight or severity. It is opposite of making something heavier. For example,

  • I was trying lightening up her mood, but she took it seriously.
  • Lightening the luggage will help you walk with less difficulty.

How to Remember the Difference

Lightening is the opposite of darkening and both have en in common.


Lightning is a noun as well as an adjective and refers to the abrupt flash of light which is associated with thunder.

Lightening is a verb which means to lighten in color, weight, pressure or severity.

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