7 Reasons Why English Is One of the Hardest Languages to Learn

posted by Chris Valentine

English is one of the leading and hardest languages to learn in the world. Although like other languages, most of the words are derived from Ancient Greek words and Latin, there is still an aspect that makes it difficult.

Yet, other nations are slowly adopting English as their second language and speaking it more fluently every day. So, is English really that challenging to learn? Keep an open mind and decide by the end of the article.

Check out seven reasons why English is one of the hardest languages to learn.

1. Sometimes It Just Doesn’t Make Sense

One of the reasons English is seen as one of the hardest languages to learn is because it has so many contradictions. There are so many examples of conundrums.

For instance:

  • If teachers taught, why can’t we say preachers praught?
  • Hamburgers don’t have ham
  • There isn’t any pine or apple in pineapple

As a native speaker, you rarely never stop to think how illogical what you say really is. You’re used to them. Unless you’re brought up speaking the English language, how do you start understanding such oddities?

This is one of the ways English can be one of the hardest languages to learn.

2. Multiple Exception To Rules

Another strange thing about English is that although they are rules, you’ve got to learn the exceptions too. That means grasping all the rules still won’t help.

For instance, there is a rule to remember where to spell a word using “ei” or “ie”: I before E except when it’s after C. For example, “receipt” and “believe” play by the rule. But what about “science,” “weird,” or “seize?”

Let’s not forget other irregular verbs. For example, the past tense of “fight” is “fought,” while the opposite of “light” is “lit.”

The exceptions make it hard to apply the existing principle with all words, making it hard to make quick progress.

3. The Order Of Words

Native speakers can easily place the words in the correct order. Yet this is probably the hardest part of learning English for non-native speakers. The right and wrong way of order of words is so complex to explain, and it goes beyond, “it just sounds right.”

For example, you can use multiple adjectives to explain a noun, but how should the adjectives follow each other? It’s right to say, “an interesting little book,” but “a little interesting book” is wrong.

The first sentence just sounds correct. Even though both phrases are grammatically correct, the first one is more acceptable. This alone can be a nightmare for those learning English, and it may seem like too much nuance.

4. Difficult Pronunciation

As if spelling words isn’t causing enough confusion, there is the pronunciation that makes English remain one of the hardest languages to learn. The words are spoken with a split between long and short vowels, which makes it very difficult to pronounce.

The other baffling part is that words ending with the same combination of letters aren’t necessarily pronounced the same way. For example, “trough” is pronounced as “troff,” while “rough” is pronounced as “ruff.”

Another good example is the words that begin with silent letters. Many people, even native speakers, don’t understand why the letters have to be there in the first place. The word includes “knife” with the silent “K” and “gnome” with the silent “G.”

This becomes frustrating when you’re a tourist and can’t pronounce town names such as “Worcester.” Many non-native speakers learn the hard way by being corrected by native speakers, and that doesn’t happen with a little laugh.

5. Understanding Idioms

Idioms are present in almost every language, however, English makes them a bit confusing. There have been exciting sayings that have been introduced in the language that doesn’t seem to make sense. For example, “raining cats and dogs,” “barking up the wrong tree,” are all examples of idioms.

This makes English more colorful. Going to spaces where they speak the language predominantly is some of the best places to study English. You will catch on to the cultural nuances ad begin to use these phrases better.

The moment you find yourself using idioms, you’ve mastered the English language.

6. Random Emphasis

It gets worse because the emphasis made, in some words in a sentence, can change their whole meaning.

For example, consider the different ways of emphasizing the sentence below.

I sent him a letter – This is a plain statement

I sent him a letter- This means you sent the letter personally, and no else did.

I sent him a letter- could mean you sent the letter but not sure he received it.

I sent him a letter- meaning you sent him a letter, and not anyone else.

I sent him a letter- meaning you sent him a letter and not any other thing.

When you’re not used to speaking the English language, all this may sound the same to you. But as you practice, you begin noticing the difference.

7. Homophones Exist

If you are still not convinced that English is among the hardest languages to learn, you’ll be after this. English has many words that are pronounced the same but have different spellings and meanings.

Here are a few examples:

“The door was too close for the window to close”. In this case, the first close is pronounced by a soft “S,” and it means something is near. Yet the second close is pronounced with a hard “S,” and it means shut.

“I decided to dessert my dessert”. The first and second “dessert” is pronounced with more emphasis on the second syllable. But the first one refers to abandoning something, while the other one refers to a pudding.

Do You Think English Is The Hardest Language To Learn?

Even though English is among the hardest languages to learn, it’s still possible to learn it and become fluent in it. Yet, it could take time to get used to learning all the rules of English. It’s important to be patient.

Although it’s possible to use free online materials, learning English can become much easier with a tutor. For more tips and information, visit our blog.

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