The hardest languages for native English speakers to learn are Mandarin Chinese, Arabic, Polish, and Russian.
But what about the English language itself, don’t we get some credit for how tricky it can be to learn all of the odd little rules and words that sound the same but mean different things and have unique spellings?
Or what about why some words have a past tense and others simply do not – how do we explain this?
I see grown adults who have been speaking English their entire lives misusing “to” and “there.” While these mistakes are enough to make most of us roll our eyes, there are far more complicated aspects of the English language that are easy to mess up – even for people with a decent vocabulary and handle on basic grammar.
Understandably, the English language is MUCH harder to learn if it’s your second language. Imagine trying to explain to someone why Wednesday has two d’s in it, or why you have fingertips but no toetips – but you can tiptoe.
In the pursuit of mastering the English language, some people have decided to share their confusions and frustrations. Proving that English is weirder than we often give it credit for.
Linguists could pinpoint a solution to many of the problems presented in this list. After all, the English language has a lot of nuances, or words that are borrowed from Latin and Greek.
In addition, many words have lost their origins over the years or are no longer spoken, leaving holes in the English language.
Even if you can explain away some of the oddities, that doesn’t make our language any less confusing for those trying to learn it as a second or third language.
English takes words from many other cultures and makes them its own. To make matters even more confusing, it has very few ‘fixed’ grammar rules, and those that do exist often can’t be explained.
English pronunciation can be evil…
Don’t even get us started on rhyming, that’s a skill for English masters. There are a lot of words out there that you’d think would rhyme but they don’t. Like, why don’t Sean and Bean rhyme?
Then there’s the issue of how to answer certain common questions. If someone asks: “Are you sure you don’t want any cake?” Do you reply: ‘yes’ as in I’m sure, or ‘no’ as in I don’t want any cake?
I’ve never even realized this before…
It takes around one year for the average adult to learn English well enough to be considered fluent. Although, to accomplish this task in 12 months, he or she would need to spend around 5 hours a day studying.
If you were to spend 10 hours a day learning a language, it would take anywhere between 48 and 72 days to master the language.
Of course, there are a variety of factors that’ll influence how long it ends up taking you to learn the English language. Such as how good you are at picking up new languages, how many languages you already speak, and if you are living in an English-speaking country.
Despite how complicated English is to learn, an estimated 1.5 billion people speak English out of the 7.5 billion living on Earth.
The countries with majority native English speakers include: the United States of America, United Kingdom, Canada, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago.
When perversion gets in the way of practicality
Here are some more riddles for you to ponder…
If olive oil is made of olives, what is baby oil made from?!
If the plural of tooth is teeth, shouldn’t the plural of booth be beeth?
If the teacher taught, why isn’t it also true that the preacher praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian consume?