5 Different Reasons Why Learning English Is Difficult

Some people consider English one of the most difficult languages to learn. So what aspects of English make people think that learning English is difficult?

Check out our article to find out why learning English is difficult!

English makes no sense

One of the aspects contributing to the reason why learning English is difficult is that English is full of contradictions. With words that sound the same but are spelled differently, words that look the same but sound different and different rules for similar words, it’s just enough to make native English speakers crazy, not to mention English learners. Here are some examples of how English makes no sense:

  • There is no ham in hamburger.
  • Neither is there any apple nor pine in pineapple.
  • If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught?
  • If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
  • “Overlook” and “oversee” have opposite meanings, while “look” and “see” mean the same thing.
  • The plural of man is always called men, why shouldn’t the plural of pan be called pen?


English pronunciation is just like a nightmare for most of us as English learner. English is not a phonetic language, so it is often hard to know how to pronounce a word by its spelling. Pronunciation in English is based on sounds, not spelling. Some sounds in English (th for example) don’t exist in some other languages. Some words are very low on vowels, such as the word “strengths”, which is hard to say when you’re not accustomed to English pronunciation. What’s more, words that end in the same combination of letters aren’t necessarily pronounced in the same way. Why is “trough” pronounced “troff”, “rough” pronounced “ruff”, “bough” pronounced “bow” (to rhyme with cow) and “through” pronounced “throo”?


Another reason why learning English is difficult is prepositions. They often have multiple and overlapping meanings, as our “in the restaurant/at the restaurant” situation showed.

Second, there is no logical way of deciding which preposition goes with a particular noun, verb or adjective. Consider these examples: the reason for, excited about, , angry with somebody, on a train, jealous of. In many instances, the correct preposition cannot be guessed, so the expression must be learned as a whole. The problem is compounded when a particular vocabulary item – again it’s those commonly used ones that are often guilty – flirts with many different prepositions, making teaching and learning a longer process than we may initially account for. Let’s look at the adjective ‘available’ in the examples below

  • Tickets are available from the box office.
  • Not enough data is available to scientists.
  • No figures are available for the number of goods sold.
  • There are plenty of jobs available in the area.

All of these sentences are correct, yet in each case the adjective goes with a different preposition.

Collocations and Vocabulary

Collocations are impossible to explain in most cases but make all the difference. Example: make a mistake – many people say do a mistake, or “make progress” not “do progress”. Collocations are very important if one wants to convey the right meaning and sound natural. Your sentences will not make sense at all if you misuse collocations. Therefore, learning collocations is always challenging for every English learner. It requires a lot of effort and hard work. You have to read a lot, and learn those collocations by putting them into use.

English has one of the biggest vocabularies of all languages, and it can be very confusing for us as non-English speakers to master. Understanding the verb variations and how to apply the correct tense in a given situation can get pretty tricky for those who are learning English.  Like collocations, learning English vocabulary takes time and effort. The only way to master an English word is by using it as much as possible.


English is absolutely full of homophones – words that sound the same but have different meanings or spellings.

Here are a few sentences that make use of these crazy words:

  • She had a wound on her arm, so she wound the bandage around three times.
  • The wind was blowing too hard for the man to wind his watch.
  • Joe wanted to present Sara with her present, but decided it wasn’t a good idea at the present time.
  • The bear raided the campground and kept eating until the food storage bin was bare
  • The door was too close to the table to close
  • I decided to desert my dessert in the desert

The difficulty of a language also depends on its similarity to your own language. You’ll probably find it easier to pick up French if you’re Italian, because these languages use many of the same roots, and the same alphabet. Learning English isn’t so bad once you get used to it, just keep up the good work!

Oy wait,…

Have you tried learning English with eJOY app yet? If not, then download it to your phone and ENJOY learning English now! After becoming an eJOYer, all you need to do is choose your favorite video, watch it, look up any new words and save them for your future review. You can easily keep track of your vocabulary and play word games to master them. So cool, so easy, isn’t it???

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English is difficult to learn but that doesn’t mean you should give up learning it. Just have a look at out post about why learning English is important to keep yourself motivated!



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