Is English the Hardest Language To Learn?

Is it tough to learn English? 

English is the third most used language in the world. It isn’t surprising that many are eager to learn it too, but many describe it as difficult. 

And that’s not only coming from non-native speakers. Even native speakers also have a hard time figuring it out. What makes learning English in Singapore, or anywhere you are, challenging? 

Here are some possible factors.

Confusing grammar rules.

The English grammar can be confusing to both non-native and native speakers. Some rules don’t apply to others and it’s challenging to memorise them all. For example, the rule says to add the suffix ‘ed’ or ‘d’ for verbs in the past tense, but this doesn’t apply to all verbs. ‘’Walk’’ becomes ‘’walked’’ and ‘’dance’’ becomes ‘’danced’’, but ‘’take’’ becomes ‘’took’’, and ‘’eat’’ becomes ‘’ate’’. ‘’Read’’ remains ‘’read’’ when spelled, and the only difference is in their pronunciation. 

Illogical words, terms, and phrases.

Some students may find acing English school in Singapore hard because of the terms that sometimes make no sense or are illogical. For example, there’s no “apple” in “pineapple” and not a trace of “ham” in “hamburger”. You would think that “head over heels” is a form of exercise, but it isn’t. “Goose” is “geese” in plural form, but “moose” isn’t “meese” when plural. The number 4 is four when spelled out, but 40 is spelled as forty. “Look” and “see” have the same meaning but you can’t use the words “overlook” and “oversee” interchangeably. 



Aside from the spelling, another challenging part of learning English is word pronunciation. “Wednesday” is pronounced as “Wendsay”, and “February” has the first “r” in silent. The pronunciation for “rough” and “tough” is similar, but “through” and “dough” are pronounced differently. And again, the use of silent words can be confusing. Muscle, knife, yacht, phlegm, and receipt. So yes, “honestly”, you’re bound to encounter more during your language centre class. 

Tone or emphasis.

The meaning of your statement can vary depending on how you pronounce your words. “I gave him food” is an example of a simple sentence. But when you emphasise I, it means you’re stressing that you’re the source and not somebody else. When you stress the pronoun “him”, that means you’re certain that the food is for him and not for anybody else. 

Unwritten and exceptions to the rules.

tone emphasis

Of course, there are unwritten and some exceptions to the rules too. How do you know if a word should be spelled as “ei” or “ie”? If it comes next to the letter c, it should be “ei”. Examples are “receive” and “conceive”. But for the rest of the other consonants, it has to be “ie”, such as “shield” and “yield”. But then, where do “seize” and “weird” fall under? 

Learning English in Singapore, or any other location, takes time. Yes, there are confusing concepts and rules, but the same goes for other languages as well. It takes consistent exposure and practice to improve your English skills. The process isn’t a piece of cake, but the benefits far outweigh all the challenges. 

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