English may be the third most commonly spoken language, and the most widely spoken around the world, but it's certainly no walk in the park.
In fact, as English is a mixture of Germanic languages, like Saxon and Norse, Gaelic, French, Latin and even Arabic, it's even tricky to learn from its closest neighbours.
No language is a piece of cake, with grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary and phonology to contend with, but English has its own special madness, a certain je ne sais quoi and a spelling that feels like it defies all basic laws of the universe.
A reddit thread asking non-native English speakers what the most difficult aspect of the language was has proved an interesting window into the learning process.
Here are some of the best responses and the biggest pitfalls for English learners...
1. Sentence structure
The big red dog NOT the red big dog. Why does the latter sound so wrong?
2. Phrasal verbs
How do you feel about phrasal verbs?
Throw out, throw up, throw on...
When I fist met my wife whenever she wanted to throw something always she would say 'I will abandon' it was the funniest thing ever
Vowels. As in, the subtle differences between vowels that sound essentially identical to me.
Pairs of words like bitch/beach, shit/sheet etc. can be embarrassingly confusing.
4. Latent letters
Moved to the states when I was 7 years old. When reading, I would always pronounce the 's' in 'island'.
WHY THE F*** IS THERE AN 'S'?!? Took me weeks to kick the habit.
Exceptions, holy sh*t. English is made up of exceptions
I before E except after C and all the other times I comes before E without a C.
Loughborough in the U.K. is pronounced Lufbrer (with the end of the word sounding like a caveman grunt, rather than ending with a distinct R).
Definitely not Loogaburooga, as I once heard an Aussie say.
May i introduce you to Southwark, Leicester, Worcester and Hawick. Have fun.
My husband still has trouble with phrases. He just learned that it's actually “two peas in a pod” not “two peas in a pot.”
His reasoning on it is the absolute cutest thing I've heard though.
He thought it meant two peas in a pot about to be cooked were going through it together. To him, we are two peas in a pot because we are going through life together.
I'm one creek short of a salamander when it comes to bein' as clever as a mountain lion stalking a squirrel.
From an old stand up I saw as a kid...
manslaughter and man's laughter is the exact same arrangement of letters, but veeeeery different meanings.
My husband is a very intelligent man, but making words plural still trips him up. I get it. House becomes houses but mouse becomes mice. Box becomes boxes but ox becomes oxen.
There are so many words like that and my husband still has to think it out in his head before writing or saying it.
I knew that Bill is William and Dick is Richard, but then there's a whole set of short names that never made it to the White House and thus to the awareness of foreigners.
[...] I've lived in the US for fifteen years and I still can't fully figure out whether and why Peggy is a Margaret, Bobby is Roberta, Winnie may be Gwendolyn, etc.
I will occasionally realise that two names mentioned occasionally in emails actually refer to the same person.
When my mom immigrated to America when she was a kid, she made friends with this girl with two older brothers named Mike and Mark. S
he sometimes called Mark Markel, since she figured that since Mike's full name was Michael, Mark's full name must be Markel!
The Kings English (by Anonymous)
I take it you already know Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble, but not you, On hiccough, thorough, slough and through.
Beware of heard, a dreadful word, That looks like beard but sounds like bird.
And dead: It’s said like bed, not bead — For goodness’ sake, don’t call it deed!
Watch out for meat and great and threat… They rhyme with suite and straight and debt.
A moth is not the moth in mother, Nor both in bother, nor broth in brother.
And here is not a match for there, Nor dear and fear for bear and pear,
And then there’s dose and rose and lose — Just look them up — and goose and choose.
And cork and work and card and ward, And font and front and word and sword.
And do and go, then thwart and cart, Come, come, I’ve hardly made a start!
A dreadful language? Why, sakes alive! I’d learned to speak it when I was five.
And yet, to write it, the more I tried, I hadn’t learned it at fifty-five.
When i speak English I just create so much saliva in my mouth and I don't know why, kind of annoying.