The English language is really difficult sometimes.

I truly admire people who learn English as a second language. I especially admire people who learn English as a second language as an adult. This is not an easy language to comprehend, and people have been speaking to me and teaching it to me since my birth.

Here’s a few examples to remind you just how fun this language is:

Read is the present tense. Read is the past tense.
Plead is the present tense. Pleaded is the past tense.

The plural of goose is geese.
The plural of moose is moose.

Contractions function almost identically to the full two-word phrase, but are only appropriate in certain places of a sentence. It’s one of the weirdest quirks of this language we’ve.

Cough is pronounced ‘c-off’.
Dough is pronounced ‘d-oh’.
Tough is pronounced ‘t-uff’.
Through is pronounced ‘thr-oo’.

It’s ‘fourth’ and not ‘forth’ but it’s ‘forty’ and not ‘fourty’.

One mouse is a mouse, a few are considered mice.
One house is a house, a few are not hice.

Read and lead rhyme.
Read and lead rhyme.
Read and lead do not rhyme.
Nor does read and lead.

We park in driveways and drive on parkways.

Tear (to cry) and tear (to rip) are two completely different sounding words.

A ‘fat chance’ and a ‘slim chance’ mean the exact same thing.

Why the hell does the word ‘queue’ even exist?

Is it the ‘s’ or the ‘c’ in scent that’s the silent letter?

For the American’s out there, why is Kansas pronounced ‘Cans-as’ but Arkansas pronounced ‘Ar-kin-saw’?

Biweekly can mean every two weeks or two times in one week.

Why is ‘Dick’ a nickname for Richard?

Laughter is pronounced ‘laff-ter’.
One would think that ‘manslaughter’ would then be pronounced ‘mans-laff-ter’, right? WRONG.

Womb is pronounced ‘woom’.
Bomb is not boom.

Does anyone else’s head hurt when they think about the crazy rules, exceptions and things that make zero sense in the English language? All I have to say after writing this post is, give people a little bit of grace if the spell something wrong, say something wrong or use the wrong word in the wrong place. English is hard.

85 thoughts on “The English language is really difficult sometimes.

    1. I get mad when people say ‘You live in ——–, speak English’ because it’s a fucking ignorant thing to say. The implication that a country or place can only be made up of one group of people, on culture or subset or language is ridiculous. Multiculturalism is literally what drives the human race forward. When people say ‘Speak English here’ to me it just makes them look like the fucking idiot.

      Liked by 4 people

  1. I love when people go after English with its quirks. The town I live in has a bar/club called CC Slaughters – which was never a real person – so I truly don’t know how this was named. But when I intentionally mispronounce it as CC Slaffters, the staff look at me weird. I told one of my favorite bartenders there “Don’t look at me like that, you had the entire English language to choose from and *that’s* the word you chose?” 🤷🏽‍♂️

    Liked by 7 people

  2. English is not my first language nor by boyfriends. But HE gets upset with me when I can’t explain why you write ‘rec-ei-ve’ but you pronounce it ‘re-ce-ve’. He asks for an explanation when I dare to correct him. 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. How on earth did I learn this language? It’s nuts. It’s like twenty people in different parts of the country didn’t collaborate they just threw bits of paper in a box and said (sed) that’s what we are going to use (ewes) now. Were they high?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’ve read a linguists thoughts on the matter and people seem to think that English is the least consistent, least thought out language on earth. They very well could have been high! Also, though… it’s so piecey. Like people just came along and changed it when they didn’t like something.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love languages. I’ve studied French, Spanish, German, Chinese, Russian, Arabic, and Hebrew. In my spare time, you’ll catch me hanging out with Duolingo. I’m a freaking English major– and it’s my primary language– and it’s still lost on me!

    I’m always shocked when I’m working with my students [when I’m not writing I teach English to Chinese kids over webcam] and they are running circles around me. I can’t even imagine learning English as an adult.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Right? It’s so hard to explain when it’s your first language. Trying to teach the rules to someone is like… ‘there’s no reason for it… it just is that way.’

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oooh! I know this one! ‘Kansas’ is named after the Kansa tribe that used to inhabit the region. ‘Arkansas’ is a word (or, an Anglicized word) from the natives there (the Osage, I think) in their language, referring to the Kansa people. So they’re both the Kansa tribe’s name, but in two different languages. That’s why they’re so similar, but pronounced differently.

    Liked by 7 people

  6. English is technically my second language (first was Chinese at home, even if I was born and raised in the US). However, it wasn’t until I became an ESL teacher in France that I learned all about the complexities of the English language; it’s true we take SO much of the rules of grammar, pronunciation, and syntax for granted that it’s mind-boggling that we have to think about the exceptions, lest having to properly teach a non-native English speaker all of that. But as it is for learning any foreign language, there’s the fun in the challenge!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. As a writer, I on a daily basis yell at my laptop and the app Grammarly and I yell at the room, my desk….Word doc. by default wants to keep using American spelling of English. Well the rest of the English spelling world, like New Zealand, England, Australia etc spell completely differently to American spelling. So I understand on that level as well.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes! I do a lot of yelling at my phone as well. Do you yell at your phone?

      Me screaming: “COLOUR HAS A U IN IT!”

      I completely understand where you’re coming from.

      Like

      1. I was about to use the ‘colour’, example but I couldn’t remember what Canada does with that word. Oh and I am writing this on my dam phone and it has a blooming blue line under the word colour, I am surprised you can’t hear me yelling all the way from NZ.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Yessss!! I totally agree!! This piece actually got me thinking as I read along and I tried pronouncing the words. I laughed a bit too. I’ve recently gotten quite bothered about how a lot of Nigerians seem to treat other Nigerians when they make mistakes with English. We have several indigenous languages and English isn’t one of them but someone makes a little mistake and is judged. It’s so annoying.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Do most people in Nigeria speak English? I don’t know much about Nigeria but I always presumed that English wouldn’t be a prominent language in African countries. That’s probably very naive and ignorant of me to admit, but now that you’ve left this comment you’ve got me curious and thinking about it and now I want to do some research!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. English is the official language of Nigeria. In west Africa, 5 countries are English speaking, including Nigeria. Then about 9.. I think speak French and 1 is a Portuguese speaking country.
        I can’t really say that most people in Nigeria speak English but I can say that most people in Nigeria understand some basic form of it. People that grow up in rural communities are far more likely to speak the language of that community.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I’m quite ignorant about other countries too so it’s fine. I think people make too much of a big deal about stereotypes when they’re on the receiving end but they stereotype other people and cultures as well. I’d love to learn about other people and their cultures by experiencing them tho 😫😫

        Liked by 1 person

  9. My favorite think about Arkansas is the Arkansas river, which is pronounced ar-KAN-sas. So the Arkansas runs through Arkansas. Great post! At the risk of sounding ungrateful, it’s great to learn what grates on you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. HAHAH, there are a lot of things in this world that grate on me. I’m a fickle being. That being said, this is a fickle language, so I’m sure there’s probably a lot for everyone! Fun factoid on the Arkansas River! I love learning new things. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Good one! As some who came o Canada at 30, I still shake my head when I come across some of these weird spelling or pronunciations. To be fair, every language has its weird and quirky exceptions even if the English language takes first place. I didn’t find it that hard to learn–for me, the hardest thing was pronouncing long and short vowels…Sheet take a whole different meaning if you don’t understand the th vowel needs to be drawn out a little longer. I leant this the hard way 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Some of these actually do make some sense, even if the “rules” aren’t exactly consistent. In general, I’ve found that a lot of the things people say make no sense actually do make some sense from a different perspective.

    The “we’ve” thing doesn’t work there, because there are actually two different words spelled “have,” the one meaning to possess something and the auxiliary verb creating perfect tenses (i.e., to have done something). This sentence uses the first kind of “have,” but the contraction “we’ve” is only used for the second kind.

    However, the argument the sentence makes is correct. If someone asks me, “Are you Greg?” I’m not going to answer, “I’m.”

    Dick is a nickname for Richard (and Bill for William and Bob for Robert) because at one time in England it was fashionable to make slang terms by rhyming, and those words rhyme with the more logical shortened forms of the names.

    I’ve read that in the early days of the US, there was much debate in Arkansas over the two pronunciations. Both states were ultimately named after the same indigenous tribe, but I believe Kansas was named by English speakers and Arkansas by French speakers.

    I don’t have answers for the others, but I’m sure some of them do have explanations.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I would suggest that, in the right context, we’ve does work in the possessive. Within that sentence, it does not work. But that was also to prove the point of the sentence, it wasn’t accidentally placed there. You know what I mean?

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I’ve learned English as my second language since middle school. But, I still suck at it. In my country, most of students learned English at middle school. Some at primary school. Then, in high school, we learned another foreign language beside English. Well let’s call it third language (?). But, this third language can differ from one school to another. For example, in my high school, I learned English as my second language and French as my third language. Meanwhile in my friend’s school, she learned Japanese as her third language. Since I never speak or just write something in French anymore after high school, I forget most of them haha 😅
    Anyway, thanks for sharing this article 🙏👍 It really helps me in understanding English.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. French is my second language and I’ve basically done the same as you with it being your third. It’s something that, if you never use it, speak it or write it, you forget it. It’s so easy to forget it!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. You made me smile. In Cockney world in London:
    I fell down the apple and pears – “stairs”
    I got a new whistle – means “suit” – comes from “Whistle and flute”

    They used to use this Cockney Rhyme and Slang so that the Police and others couldn’t understand them lol

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I’m German and have been living in the US for 17 years … boy, I am still learning.

    I find all these silent letters quite challenging. Sword, thumb, gnat … what’s a silent letter good for, I wonder. I’m really taking pity on them. No one is hearing what they would have to say. 🙂

    Many greetings from Virginia, Ivonne

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Awe, that was cute. No one is seeing the silent letters. Like ‘Queue’ has four of them! Learning English must’ve been a lot of fun.

      Like

  15. Haha!

    And English is such a mish-mash of European language influences. This explains some of it.

    Dyslexia rates are particularly high in English, because it’s one of the least logical languages. That’s an interesting subject and I really have a lot of sympathy for people having problems with English! Whether they are native speakers or not.

    It’s clear to me the differences between people on how they learn language. For me it comes so instinctively, that I don’t have to think about it, about spelling (except rarely) or grammar rules, whilst my younger brother really struggles with these, but had no problem picking up on some Korean. Korean is a much better language for people who struggle with languages like English! Italian is also good, apparently.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. So my suggestion is for you to change language, lol. You were cursed with being born in a country which has not just one, but TWO shit languages! 😆

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My brother speaks Danish and he says it’s a really good language to learn because a lot of the Scandinavian country’s languages are very similar. So if you can speak Danish you can understand Germans and Swedes and the Finns too. Maybe I’ll go for Danish. Then I can speak to my niece as she grows up.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ah, cool! Yeah I learned a lot of Norwegian once, and it was a very logical and simpler language. And I found I could read some Swedish, too. Norwegian also sounded very melodic, so perhaps Danish does too. Danish also sounds like a pastry 👍.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Isn’t it? Oh man, I’ve been speaking it my whole life and I’m still baffled on the regular as to why certain rules are the way they are.

      Like

  16. Well..kind of intersting.
    However one gets to have these problems when they learn in English as an adult for studying English as kids, it seems as natural as Hindi or any other native language

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Totally blew my mind with “scent.” Damn. And as a ‘Merikan I sometimes jokingly call Arkansas ‘Ar-kansas’ like you mentioned. I think it’s my subtle way of making fun of the state.

    Fun fact: Airline pilots all are required to speak English proficiently. English is the language used by all air traffic controllers and pilots anywhere in the world. Think of all the adults in the world from China, India, Russia, Japan –wherever — who have to learn our crappy language to have that job. It’s difficult to get into the airlines as-is, and I think learning English would be the hardest part for them.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. English is tough. I have still no idea about nouns, pronouns, adverbs, adjectives, and tenses, although I have learned about them many times. Why put and but are not pronounced similarly? Why is k silent in knife and knowledge? Why is P silent in Psychology? English is a weird language.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Love the post ♥️ I appeared for a few competitive exams last year, wherein English is one of the compulsory subjects. And I thank the stars that my parents put me in an English-medium school, because I remember the look on the faces of my ‘Co-Exam Takers’ who did not learn English in school.

    Like

  20. I was thinking to write blog on English being strange language. Glad to read your blog.
    The other day my daughter asked me mama why put and but are pronounced differently when they have the same vowel..and why moon and foot are diff when they have double oos..😛 that day i thought i should definetly write about it wd little research..😀

    Like

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