Five Reasons English is Hard to Learn


English is a highly complex language with many exceptions to the rules. There are a few hundred irregular verbs to tackle. And depending on where you are, there are different regional dialects with variations in vocabulary and pronunciation.

We know what you might think – English isn’t that tough to learn. It’s one of the easiest languages to master.

Well, that depends on whom you are speaking to or, in this case, talking to but not fully communicating with because English is a tricky language.

Let’s look at five common reasons non-native language speakers find it hard to master English.

1. English is a complex language with many variations in pronunciation and spelling

English is spoken differently all over the world. So it can be challenging to master. It has many different rules of grammar, spelling, and pronunciation. Words with combinations of letters have different meanings in other languages – like “have” and “of.”

English also has many homonyms where two words seem like they should mean the same thing but mean very different things – like “light” and “right.”

2. There are often multiple, different meanings for the same word

Though English is often called a “simple” language, it can be pretty challenging to learn. One of the main reasons for this is that there are many different ways to say the same thing in English.

For example, if you’re hungry in English, you could say “hungry” or “starved.” The word “hungry” has more than ten different meanings, and similar terms like “hungering” have unique meanings.

3. Learning English can be difficult because subtle differences in grammar and vocabulary might not be immediately apparent

Grammatical and semantic features of English can inhibit correct comprehension. A person must listen attentively and read carefully to catch all the distinctions.

There are also language features that might not be noticeable until one is engaged in a verbal exchange about an ongoing event or does a written exercise where sentence structure changes constantly.

In addition, different accents have subtle pronunciation differences that might be difficult for some to grasp clearly.

4. People struggle with how to use prepositions and modifiers correctly

The grammar is complicated enough, but prepositions and modifiers are even more so. That’s because they represent parts of speech in English that aren’t verbs or nouns.

Prepositions and modifiers make it difficult to understand complex sentence structures when you’re used to straightforward explanations. Learning prepositions with modifiers can be frustrating at times.

5. Verbs have dozens of different uses, all of which can significantly change the meaning of a sentence

Verbs are perhaps the most challenging part of the language to master because they change their meanings based on when they appear and who is doing what in different sentences. Their use in combining words also changes the meaning of sentences, which takes time for new English speakers to understand.

Verbs are a complicated part of English because you can use them in many ways. For example, the word “pick” has at least four meanings: pick up something, choose something to put in your mouth, block somebody from passing by with your body, and clean the needles off a sewing machine.

English is hard. Even native-language speakers often struggle to master the language completely. That’s why fully fluent speakers are your best bet when it comes to absolutely perfecting critical message translations from one language into English.  

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