Learning a language can be seriously hard. This is especially true for english, and its many many nuances (and exceptions).
Recently, Reddit users with English as their second language were asked to share the most annoying things about the English language. The results will make you very glad you dont have to go through the struggle of learning this complicated language.
That there is a very weak link between spelling and pronunciation. In German if you read a word, it’s quite clear how you are supposed to pronounce it. In English, if you read an “u” it can be pronounced like five different ways.
I teach English as a Second Language for a living, and my students struggle far less with pronunciation than they do with phrasal verbs. As far as I can tell, these are so difficult that they make many people want to quit as soon as they begin.
Us native speakers use these all the time without thinking about them, but they’re insanely difficult to learn for the first time, and there’s absolutely no pattern to teach. There are thousands, and each one must be memorized on its own.
Here’s how they work: take a verb, add a preposition, you get a new verb. For example:
We all know what break means. But break up, break down, break in, and break out all have different, specific meanings.
What does “give” or “up” have to do with “giving up” and why don’t we just say “resign”?
You can run to the store, run out of milk, run over an idea, run down a list, run behind on your homework, or run up a bill, all without doing any running at all.
The use of ‘in/on.’
“Get on the bus” “Punch a guy in the face”
Why is it when I say “hour and a half”, it’s fine, but when I say “two hours and a half” everyone laughs. I get it, I’m supposed to say “two and a half hours,” but it will never make sense to me.
Also, why are people saying “Have a good night” to me at 1 PM when we’re in the same timezone? The sun doesn’t go down for another 7 hours at least.
The letter ‘C’. I hated that letter when I was young, you never know if its the ‘s’ or ‘k’ sound when dealing with new words.
The pronunciation of words. Took me years of watching tv shows in English for it to sound natural. It just seems like there’s no firm rules to follow.
All the faith he had had had had no effect on the outcome of his life is correct.
More broken down, this is:
“All the faith [that] he had had had had no effect on the outcome of his life”
Or with better bracketing:
[All the faith [that he had had]] [had had no effect on the outcome of his life]
Screw you english.
My parents’ native tongue has no pronoun indication of gender and few gendered nouns (e.g. no words for “sister” and “brother” just “older sibling” and “younger sibling”), so they use the wrong gender pronouns for everything. So when they tell a story, they’ll go back and forth between “he/him/his” and “she/her/hers” and confuse everyone.
They also struggle with articles (mom says “what a hell”) and complex verb conjugations like “they have been working.”
Also the various pronunciations of words with “ough” in them. Through, tough, bough, thought, thorough, though, trough…
When I moved to London I used to say most of the tube stops wrong, like Leicester square, Southwark, Holborn, etc. It was quite frustrating when I would ask for directions and no one knew was I was taking about.
Words that are spelled entirely different than they are pronounced. For example colonel and queue.
Words that look like ones that exists in your language.
Take college, for example. In French, there’s the word collge. Written almost the same way, very similar pronunciation, gotta be the same thing, right? NOPE. Collge is middle school, not college.
We call those words “fake friends” and there are a lot of them.
I can make sense out of mostly everything, but phrasal verbs are so annoying. There is no way to make a good guess. Sure you can make out the meaning in context but still. Stuff like give in, give up, give away, give way.
Also I’ve recently learned that I cannot distinguish between the sound of W and V. Sounds same to me. I can interchange them and it won’t matter to me. Vawe is the same as Wave to me.
Cut a tree down, and then cut it up. “Cut up” is one of a large class of English phrasal verbs that have little to do with the literal meaning of the preposition.
Is it route or route? Is it either or either? Is it read or read?
I AM NOT CONTENT WITH THIS CONTENT.
“Tear” and “Tier” are pronounced the same but “Tear” and “Tear” are pronounced differently.
If I had to learn english as a second language I would probably jump off a bridge.
English has alternative stress patterns that indicate whether related words are nouns (first syllable stressed) or verbs (second syllable stressed).
It’s a subtle difference but it really helps to know.
Few people, even English speakers realize that there is an order to adjectives. Generally the order in English is:
1. Opinion (e.g., ugly, beautiful)
2. Size (e.g., big, little)
3. Age (e.g., young, old)
4. Shape (e.g., square, round)
5. Color (e.g., black, yellow)
6. Origin (e.g., British, American)
7. Material (e.g., polyester, Styrofoam)
8. Purpose (e.g., swimming, as in a swimming pool, sewing, as in a sewing machine)
So you can say: It’s a beautiful big old oval blue American tiled swimming pool.
But you cannot say: It’s a blue American oval big old tiled beautiful swimming pool.
Just getting my tongue use to speaking English without the heavy accent. Still trying after 25 years.
Those. Damn. Silent. Letters.
Silent “B”: climb, comb, crumbs, debt, doubt, numb, subtle, thumb, tomb
Silent “D”: Wednesday, sandwich, handsome, edge, bridge
I can go on…
“Will will smith smith?” is a grammatically correct sentence.
So is “Will Smith will smith.”
I also realized this could be a conversation.
“Will Will Smith smith?”
“Will Smith Will Smith”
*Yoda nods in agreement* “Smith Will Smith Will”
The fact that people sometimes think you are less intelligent if you don’t speak it perfectly. I think it’s a subconscious thing for the most part. You’ll get taken less seriously if you can’t express your thoughts fluently, or if you don’t understand something.
English is supposed to be “easy” for us because it’s everywhere, but if you look at it from an English speakers point of view, you guys don’t have to learn another language to understand mainstream culture (music etc).
When English mother tongues can’t explain English or when they just say “this is just how English is” for every explanation.
Me : “I just mined 500 golds!!”
Friend : “it’s just gold not golds.”
Me : “but it’s a plural?”
Friend : “gold is not countable. it’s a non-count noun”
Me : “So you say 100 fish or 100 fishes?”
Friend : “you say fish”
Me : “but fish is countable…”
Friend : “Shut up.”
Why do you write things differently than they’re pronounced?
I understand different languages having their own phonetics for a letter but god damn it, English, you don’t make any sense.
Some of the answers have been edited for clarity.