So why the heck is English so damn hard?

I’m sure most of you feel that way. There are many reasons why many English language learners ask this question. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some of them.

  • Strange words: Watch out for words that trick you into thinking one thing when they could mean exactly the opposite. Take Bombay duck for example. It is not a duck, it is a type of fish. Other examples are eggplant (aubergine or brinjal)- there are no eggs in it, guinea pig – it is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig, hamburger doesn’t have ham in it. And guess what? French fries aren’t from France.
  • Words that sound alike: There are words that have similar sounds. But they have entirely different meanings. Like, affect (to change) and effect (a result), lay (to put) and lie (to say something not true), quiet (something that makes very little noise) and quite (absolutely).
  • Odd phrases: Most of them have weird origins, and have meanings that are entirely different from what you might think. For instance, what do breaking the ice and starting a conversation have in common? Other examples are go Dutch (split the bill especially in a restaurant), pull someone’s leg (to trick someone), mind your P’s and Q’s (to mind your manners).
  • Inconsistent rules: It doesn’t just end with words and phrases – the rules in English are wacky as well. They are inconsistent. That is, the rules aren’t the same throughout the language. So, the plural of tooth is teeth, but the plural of booth isn’t beeth. A wise man and a wise guy are the opposites. If a teacher taught, why doesn’t a preacher praught?
  • Difficult sentence structures: To make things even harder, there are those difficult sentences. If a new English language learner comes across such difficult sentence structures, he most probably will get the impression that English is indeed a really difficult language.

A simple example of a difficult sentence would be, “John is going to London next week”.

A new learner might ask why is the present tense mentioned (is going to) when John will be travelling only next week, but that’s English!

There are, of course, many other reasons as well.

But one distinct factor that determines if you find English difficult or not is your first language. Yes, your ease of learning English depends on how similar your first language and English is. If it is very much similar, you would find it relatively easy. If your first language is quite different from English, it’s going to be a little tough. Chinese learners especially will find it difficult to learn to speak English as the difference between Chinese and English is huge.

Given all that, it’s no surprise that many learners feel English is a really difficult language. But trust me, English is not that hard.

Okay, it maybe a little hard at first but it gets easier once you start off the right way.


Improve your English in just 5 days with my free email course. Click here to get started.