David Phillips
Professional Teacher
The top five most difficult aspects of the English language.

For you, what are your top five most difficult parts of learning English, with number one being the most difficult part?

As a native speaker, it is easy to miss what the difficulties are for learners. In my experience as a journalist, teacher and British immigrant abroad, I think that the hardest aspects are:

1. Spelling

2. Idioms

3. The order of adjectives.

4. Verb to verb collocations

5. Present perfect (simple/continuous).


It would also be interesting to find out how you attempted to overcome these difficulties when learning.


Oct 1, 2016 7:57 PM
Comments · 11
The most difficult aspects for me are the prononciation and the articles.
October 1, 2016
For me as an advanced learner of English, I believe prepositions are what cause me the most trouble. When one is no longer talking about actual spatial relationships but more abstract uses, there seems to be little sense to it (this is true of all languages I think).
Compared to Danish (my native language), English sometimes has a somewhat confusing amount of options when it comes to which preposition to use. An example of this is “disappointed at/by/in/with/over”. Why on earth do you need so many? In Danish were are perfectly happy with just using one preposition to cover all of these.
October 2, 2016

for me  the phrasal verbs


October 2, 2016

I was expecting more than one student to mention phrasal verbs,  but there is still plenty of time..

It does seem as though the present perfect is a real bugbear (students: bugbear means something that is really annoying).

In many languages this tense exists, but is seldom used. In others it does not exist.

Speaking as a learner of other languages, what I tend to find most tricky are the personal pronouns when they serve as the object of the sentence- but I suspect this is a very personal mental block.

October 2, 2016
I find cultural cues to be one of the most tricky parts. For example simple greetings like "Pleased to meet you", I find it hard to remember to use such phrases especially if I'm not overly thrilled to meet the person in question. Also, in my mother tongue it is possible to be quite blunt without it being considered as rude. You can't bring that behaviour straight over when switching languages. The finer nuances are very tricky. 
October 2, 2016
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David Phillips
Language Skills
English, French, German, Italian, Kinyarwanda, Korean
Learning Language