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How different are Chinese and English? Which is harder to learn?

So, I have heard both of the languages are similar, however, I keep hearing that English is harder or Chinese is harder. Then I hear they are completely different... So what's up with the two?

For learning: Chinese (Mandarin)
Base language: English
Category: Other



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    Here is one "easy" thing about Chinese: there is no verb conjugation.

    In English, we say, "I want TO EAT." But we have to change the form of "to eat" for various tenses: I eat, she eats, we ate, they have eaten, I am eating.

    But in Chinese, the character for "to eat" NEVER changes form.

    How hard a language is considered to be is relative. It depends on which language you learned first. Russian, for example, it is difficult for speakers of English, but relatively simple to someone who already speaks a Slavic language as his native tongue. However, if you want to compare the difficulty of a language from purely objective measures such as the existence of complex verb forms or nominal conjugations, then Russian, Latin, Greek, and German (and all Romance languages) are surely more difficult than English. If you want to compare the difficulty of a language by its writing system, then surely no other language is more difficult than Chinese. However, for the Japanese, Chinese writing is relatively easy because the Japanese grew up learning many of the characters. In sum, what aspect of a language is considered difficult depends on which language you started from, and how similar the new language is to your own language.

    the native language is always the easiest one to learn. because you haven't realize the learning process. as a native English speaker, the most important question for Chinese is not how hard it is, but why hard it is. Here are some of the difficulties: writing system, tunes, words order, a large number fixed expressions some of which are against the grammar.

    Chinese is tonal.
    4 or 5 different tones on a single sound change its meaning completely. For some, hearing the tone differences does not come easily. I suspect it is a matter of listening practice.
    As the others say, Chinese is a regular language. There are few rule exceptions.
    Chinese is described as a connotative language, contrasting with the descriptive nature of English. This can mean the some Chinese sentences leave English speakers waiting for the detail to be added. Trailing objects that are implied are usually not said. A: Want an apple? B:Want.
    "I cold" or "cars many" is enough for Chinese. No verb to be required.
    Chinese come with a flexibility that made me wonder why we are so rule-based in English. English uses complicated phrases for some constructions that Chinese simply reuses a word. It can seem similar to the English, but we are driven to use a complete & long expression. So the brevity can be refreshing.
    As with any language comes a culture of how you say things. Chinese rarely use the passive voice. While the Chinese language can support it, people usually choose to say it differently. To speak naturally you must start thinking that way.
    To me the writing is not as bad as some think at first sight, nor as easy as Chinese will say. The dictionary will be slow. When words are made of unknown symbols, 汉字, that you have no way to sound out, you cannot flip to the correct page in the dictionary quickly. You will get used to it & some web pages will not let you cut & paste into the online dictionary :(

    If you plan to speak Chinese there is a great advantage. I find an English speaker with a strong Scottish accent difficult, but Chinese people are used to hearing the accents of many Chinese dialects & in my experience are extremely tolerant to accent.
    The flip-side of this is that you if you go to China you will also hear many, many speak things different from the Chinese you learn.
    Generally you can find many people happy to practice English/Chinese. :)

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