Why English is Hard to Learn: 16 Reasons Why English is Difficult

Learning a new language is difficult. Becoming fluent in another language takes several years of practice and dedication. But why is learning English so difficult? There are many reasons to why English is a daunting language to learn.

In this article, I’ll share with you the top reasons why English is hard for everyone. Then we’ll look at how to get past these challenges, and finally, I’ll explain how to get started learning English and other language skills.

Why English is Hard to Learn?

Why English is Hard to Learn?

Why does someone who speaks Spanish think English is hard to learn when speaking another language? English is part of the Indoeuropean language family, and many words come from Ancient Greek and Latin. These difficult languages are also common in other European languages.

For English language learners of the language, however, English is hard to master. Many of the grammar rules are different from those of other challenging languages. There are also differences in pronunciation and spelling.

English is a global language described as “the language of opportunity.” There are more than 1 billion English learners worldwide. More than half of these learners reside in Asia (Non-native speakers).

The United States ranks first among the top 10 English-speaking nations. Despite the fact that English is the official language of the US, it is not widely spoken. Many Americans are not English speakers and speak Spanish instead.

There are many reasons why the English language is hard to master. For example, it has an irregular word order, like the German language or Japanese language.

Or, If you’re used to the Roman alphabet, you may struggle to learn oriental languages that rely on symbols, such as Korean.

There is also more than a single way to say the same thing. And we have a ton of words that sound similar, even though they mean entirely different things. But there are also other factors we must take into account.

One is that English is a language that changes all the time. New words are added, old ones get changed, and sometimes you just need to figure out what an English speaker means when they talk about something that doesn’t exist yet.

The English language features grammatical rules that are often broken, an alphabet that can confuse people who are used to a character-based system, and spelling and pronunciation irregularities that perplex even native speakers.

Some Contradictions

There are many different ways to learn a foreign language. One of them is immersion. Immersion means you spend a lot of time speaking the language, listening to it, reading it, writing it, and watching movies and TV shows in it.

Some people have a natural aptitude for languages and pick them up fast; children absorb new languages much more quickly than adults.

You also need to practice grammar and vocabulary. Another method is called spaced repetition. Spaced repetition is when you study something every few days instead of once a week. This helps you remember what you learned. For example, if you studied French as a target language for three weeks, then you could review your material every two weeks.

You could also try flashcards. Flashcards are cards that you write down information on. Then you put them away until you need to review them. If you are studying Spanish, you might create a card for each verb that you know.

You could also use an app like Anki. Anki is a program that allows you to create flashcards. When you get a new card, you can add it to your deck. You can also see how well you did at reviewing the cards.

Vegetables are the leading food for vegetarians, but what does a humanitarian eat? Humanitarians often give money to help others, but do they also get free food? The word see means to watch closely but look means to look at something carefully.

Oversee means to supervise someone or oversee something. However, overlooking means missing something important. These examples show that the meaning of words can change depending on context.

For example, if you say I will overlook your mistakes, it means I will forgive you for making mistakes. If you say I will overlook my mistakes, it means I am going to ignore them.

Rules and Exceptions

There are too many rules to remember, but there are also lots of exceptions to those rules. For example, you should not use “I” before” E” unless the word starts with “c” (e.g., “ceiling”), and you should not use ‘receive’ if the word ends with “ise” (e. g. “receipt”). There are numerous exceptions to these rules, though. For example, you can use “I’m” instead of “I am” in some instances, and you can use “receive” when the word ends with” ise” (e g. “receive’s”).

English has many irregular verbs. There are about 400 irregular verbs in total, including both regular and irregular ones. These verbs change form depending on what tense you’re using. For example, if you say “I am fighting,” you will use the verb “fight.”

If you said “I am fighting” in the past, then you would use the verb “fought”. You can also use the verb “light” when talking about something that is currently lit, like a light bulb. However, if you were talking about a light that had already been lit, you would use the verb “lit.”

Learning English is hard because there are many ways to say the same thing. There are also many exceptions to the rules, like when you say “I am going to go out” instead of “I will go out.” English students need to learn all of these things before they can speak fluently in English.

Word Order

Why English is Hard to Learn? word order

This is something that all languages share. There is an order in which we place words. This order is called syntax. If you speak English naturally, you already know the order in which you say words.

You just need to practice saying them out loud. But if you are trying to learn a language, then you may struggle to figure out what order to put words.

Sometimes it seems like the order doesn’t matter, but other times it matters a lot. For example, when you write down a sentence, you might notice that the order of words changes the meaning. So, when you read a book, you should pay attention to the order of words.

You can also say “an interesting cup,” but it doesn’t sound right to say “a small interesting cup.” It could be grammatically incorrect, but how it sounds makes a difference in the execution.

For example, saying “a small interesting cup” sounds like you’re talking about a cup that is small and interesting. But saying “an interesting cup” sounds like there is an exciting cup somewhere else.

Native speakers, for example, have an intuitive grasp of the language’s complexities and word order.


Why English is Hard to Learn?

In many cases, students will encounter spelling errors when reading books or articles. Some of these mistakes are easy to spot, while others are not. For example, the word “the” could be spelled either “th” or “d.” The letter “e” is silent in the word “teacher,” but it is pronounced in the word “team.”

Spelling is just one aspect of language that needs to be learned. Pronunciation is another. Students need to know how to say certain sounds correctly. These sounds are called phonemes.

Phonemes are similar to graphemes, which are the individual characters that makeup words. A phoneme is a sound made by combining two or more graphemes.

An example is the sound /s/ in the word “school.” The first letter “s” represents the sound /s/, and the second letter “h” represents the sound. Another example is the sound /k/ in the word ‘cat.’ The first letter ‘c’ represents the sound /k/, and the second letter represents the sound.

Knife. Write. Daughter. Aisle. Gnome. Psychology. Knee. Lamb. Half. Wrist. Plumber. The problem is further complicated by words that contain both consonant and vowel sounds.

Examples include photosynthesis, crystal, scythe, symphony, rhythm, gypsy, motorcycle, chlorophyll, encyclopedia, lightly, and myrtle.

Before you breathe a sigh of relief, there’s still more, as there are words that do not have vowel sounds, such as brr, Shhh, Grrr, Hmmmm, Mmm, Psst, Nth, Pfft, Tsk. These combinations of sounds form words that are quickly understood to signify an action.

Every English-speaking country also speaks its unique way of pronouncing words; the US, Canada, Australia, NZ, and South Africa all speak their distinctive ways of saying things.

There are several different ways to pronounce words with similar letter combinations, such as though, bough, rough, and trough.

Emphasis on Certain Words

The way you emphasize a word or phrase will change its meaning. For example, if I say, “I am going to go to the store,” you might think I am going shopping. If I say, “I am going shopping,” you might assume I am buying something. When we emphasize a word, we are talking about paying extra attention to it. We can also emphasize a word by using an intonation pattern.

Intonation patterns are sounds made at the end of a sentence that indicates the emotion behind what is being said. These sounds help us understand the message even though the words themselves may not be clearly understood.

Several Homophones

In addition to the above, there are many other types of homophones. Homophones are words that sound alike but mean something completely different. Some examples are alternate, alternative, alter, alter ego, alternately, and aliterate.

Alternate – pronounced as ALternaitswitching from one to another. Attributes – to associate ownership to (someone or something) when pronounced as ahTribyoot(emphasis on the second syllables). Attributes – someone’s characteristics when the focus is on the first syllable, as in AhTribyoot. Bass – is pronounced as written when we want to indicate a specific type of fish.

Bass is pronounced as baas when you want to describe musical instruments. Bow, when used as a noun, means a hunter’s weapon. Bow, when used in a verb, means to lower your head. Bow, when used with the word contest, means to argue. Bow, when used while emphasizing the last syllable, means to compete.

When the word is pronounced with a hard “W” sound, it means to close a door, window, or another opening. If you say wound, you mean that you are wrapping something up, such as a rope, bandage, or cable. If you say wow, it means to coil or wrap up something.

Some English Words have multiple different meanings. For example, a “Course” could be a series of lessons, a course of development, a line of orientation, action or event, a mode of action, a path, and a part of the meal or a masonry wall. “Raise” is another word with multiple definitions.

It could mean to raise the level or amount of anything, upward movement (like your hands or eyes), to call something into action, to call someone out, to call emotions out, to create a disturbance, to improve the quality, wealth or condition of something, to make something better, to call something into existence, and to create a disturbance.

Synonyms Cannot Be Interchanged

Why English is Hard to Learn? synonyms

In many languages, there are different words that mean the same thing. For example, in Spanish we have “ver una película” and “ver televisión”. But in English, we cannot simply exchange “see” and “watch.”

We need to choose carefully when using either word. If you say, “I saw a movie,” then you are saying that you watched a film. You could also say, “I watched a movie,” if you were referring to watching a film on your phone or tablet. However, if you said, “I saw television,” you would probably be talking about a broadcast channel.

You may call yourself a watcher if you watch movies, but you are not called a movie watcher. You can also call yourself a viewer if you watch TV shows, but you are not referred to as a TV viewer. You can even call yourself a television viewer if you watch TV programs, but you are not a television viewer. You can only call yourself a television watcher if you watch TV programs.

Learning a foreign language is hard because there are many different ways to say something. There are also differences in grammar and pronunciation. You need to understand the meaning of words and phrases before communicating effectively (similar to native speakers).

These differences can be confusing for non-native speakers at first, but if you put in the time and effort to learn them, you will soon become fluent. If you speak another language or are a non-native speaker, you may not even notice the difference.

However, if you are learning a new language, you will probably feel frustrated sometimes. Try to focus on what you like about the language and ignore any negative aspects.


Why English is Hard to Learn? idiom

English is an ancient language that has dramatically changed since its creation. Over time, many phrases have become part of our daily vocabulary. These phrases are often funny but also sometimes mean something completely different. Idioms are a great example of this.

For instance, “barking up the wrong tree” means to go about doing something incorrectly. However, “raining cats and dogs” means there will be a lot of rain. And finally, the “straw that breaks the camel’s back” means that something small will cause a big problem.

Idioms in the English language are difficult for non-native speakers of English to understand.

Traces of archaic English

English doesn’t move with the times very often, but there are still plenty of outdated phrases and expressions that you might come across. “Alas’ is one of the more commonly used ones, but you could also hear “thou shalt does not kill’ in the Ten Commandments or Shakespeare’s ‘To be or not to be.'” Old literary and poetic references such as “Shakespeare’s ‘To be or not to bee'” and “Burns’ ‘my love is like a red red rose'” are still widely used today.

Regional dialects

English is spoken worldwide, but there are differences in how different regions pronounce words. For instance, Americans say “bath” with a short “a” sound. In contrast, British people say “barth” with a long “a.” Some other examples of regional variations are “barn” vs. “banner,” “cabbage” vs. “cauliflower,” “chicken” vs. “fowl” and the list goes on.


Pluralization is a process of word formation that involves changing one or more words from their singular form into their plural form. It’s an essential part of the hardest languages, especially regarding nouns. We use the suffix “-s” in English to make nouns plural.

You would say “the books” instead of “book.” Other languages don’t have this rule, making things much harder for English language learners.


Why English is Hard to Learn? Grammar

Grammar refers to rules about how words are formed. Grammatical rules vary between languages, but they all follow specific patterns. The most common grammatical rule in English is called “subject-verb agreement.” This means that every sentence must include two parts: a subject and a verb.

Another common rule is “comparison.” the issue is usually a person, place, or thing, while the verb describes the action performed by that subject. For example, “I am reading” and “You are reading” both describe actions performed by the same issue (me).

This states that adjective clauses can only compare two things at once. You wouldn’t say, “The book was bigger than the cat” because the comparison clause “than” compares two objects at once. Instead, you would say, “The book is bigger than the cat. ” Lastly, there is the rule of “possessive pronouns.”

This says that if you want to refer to your own possessions, you need to add a possessive pronoun after them. For example, ‘My car’ and ‘Your car’ both refer to cars owned by you and me, respectively.

Grammar structure, pronunciation, definitions, and rules are essential and not easy to master for new English learners.

English language speakers sometimes assume that the structure and requirements of their language are fixed and unchanging.


Vocabulary is simply the collection of words that you know. Vocabulary is essential in any language, but learning new words can be difficult. There are several reasons for this. First, some words are hard to understand because they aren’t familiar to us.

Second, some words are similar to others, so it can be confusing to learn which one is correct. Finally, sometimes words just seem weird or funny. Learning vocabulary isn’t easy, but it’s essential to becoming fluent in a language.


We have more vowel sounds than we have a combination of letters to represent them. For example, the schwa sound could be represented by the letter’ a’, ‘e’, ‘i’, ‘o’, ‘u’, or ‘y’. There are also other vowels like ‘ae’, ‘ai’, ‘ao’, ‘au’, ‘ei’, ‘eu’, ‘ia’, ‘ie’, ‘io’, ‘iu’, ‘oi’, ‘ou’, ‘oy’, ‘ua’, ‘ue’, ‘ui’, ‘uo’, ‘uu’, ‘uy’, ‘ew’.

About, stolen, pencil, memories, supply, vinyl. One little vowel letter can represent lots of different vowel sounds: hat/hate/all/art/any. So I reckon there might be letters missing from our alphabet! The opposite is also true… A single vowel sound can be represented with different vowel letters: “they”/”weigh”/”may”/”cake”/”break”/”rain”.

But that’s not all! There are actually about 7,000 different ways to spell the word “the”. That means there are about 7,000 different images of the word “the” in your brain! So when you read, you see those 7,000 different images over and over again. And that’s why reading is so essential.

Phrasal Verbs

Why English is Hard to Learn? Vocabulary

Phrasal verbs are words that contain a verb and an adverb or preposition, such as: to be tired of something, to have no choice but to do something, to know how to do something, etc. Phrasal verbs are very useful because they make sentences much easier to understand. They help you express complex ideas in simple ways.

The phrase “to be tired of something” means exactly the same as saying “I am tired of doing something.” It doesn’t matter whether you use the verb “to be” or the verb “do”; either way, it expresses the exact same idea.

Silent letters

Why English is Hard to Learn? silent letters

The silent letters (also called the invisible letters) are a form of typographic shorthand in which certain characters, such as vowels and consonants, are not written out but instead replaced by other characters.

Silent letters can be used to save space on paper, reduce printing costs, and make writing faster and easier. This can be helpful for English language learners since many people don’t write their native language correctly.

For example, the word “the” contains three silent letters: t, h, and e.

Families of Languages

Why English is Hard to Learn? Family of languages

Today, there are around 7,000 languages spoken worldwide. The hardest languages are not related to each other like a family tree. Instead, they evolved independently and formed different family trees. For example, English is a member of a Germanic family of tricky languages. It will be easier to understand English if you speak Dutch because they share many words. The European language family is Latin, Greek, Germanic, Slavic, Romance, Albanian, Hungarian, Czech, Polish, Russian, etc.

You can find it easy to learn English if your first language is similar to it or as a native speaker. Learning English would be difficult if your native everyday language is not similar to it. For example, if you speak Japanese, it will be hard to learn English because there are many differences between them.

Hardest Languages To Learn

The hardest languages to learn are Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Russian, and Korean. These languages require a lot of memorization and practice. Learning these languages requires a lot of patience and dedication.

Perplexing Spelling

Why English is Hard to Learn? spelling

Learning English is hard because you need to remember many different sounds and spellings. There are also many exceptions to the rules. Spelling changes every time someone writes something down—spelling changes when someone types something out. Spelling changes when you hear someone speak. Spelling changes when people read aloud. Spelling changes when people read aloud. Spelling changes when a word gets borrowed from another language.

Spelling changes when an author wants to sound like Shakespeare. Spelling changes when the writer doesn’t care about sounding like Shakespeare.

Spelling even changes when someone tries to write something down phonetically. There are many reasons why English spelling is confusing. But the main reason is that English spelling reflects the history of the language.

In the past, many of those pronunciations had changed over time. But, the spelling remained constant. Like the ‘ch” sound in the Scottish word Loch, it is no longer used today in British English pronunciation.

Why English Is Hard To Learn? Final Thoughts

In conclusion, if you’re struggling to learn English, don’t worry—you’re not alone. As much as we’d like to believe otherwise, learning a new language isn’t always easy. But don’t give up! There are many ways to improve your English skills, including taking classes, reading books, watching videos, and practicing conversation. And remember, practice makes perfect!




About Skillabilly Editorial Staff

The Editorial Staff at Skillabilly is a team of Personal and professional experts in the education and career services industry led by Shalev Morag. We have been creating Skill guides and tutorials since 2022, and Skillabilly has become an impactful free skills and abilities resource site in the industry.