People Share The Things They Find The Most Annoying About The English Language.

I'd assume that for the most of us, it's a love-hate relationship with the language adopted by the British. There is English and Canadian english (much like English in Britain) then American english and well every other "broken" variation of the english language that exists world-wide. It could all get quite confusing. 

The following Ask Redditors responded to the question, "People with a mother tongue that isn't English, what are the most annoying things about the English language when you are trying to learn it?" 

Take a look at the original thread at the end of the article for more responses. 

I teach English as a Second Language for a living, and my students struggle far less with pronunciation than they do with phrasal verbs. As far as I can tell, these are so difficult that they make many people want to quit as soon as they begin.

U.S native speakers use these all the time without thinking about them, but they're insanely difficult to learn for the first time, and there's absolutely no pattern to teach. There are thousands, and each one must be memorized on its own.

Here's how they work: take a verb, add a preposition, you get a new verb. For example:

We all know what break means. But break up, break down, break in, and break out all have different, specific meanings.

What does "give" or "up" have to do with "giving up" and why don't we just say "resign"?

You can run to the store, run out of milk, run over an idea, run down a list, run behind on your homework, or run up a bill, all without doing any running at all.


That there is a very weak link between spelling and pronunciation. In German if you read a word, it's quite clear how you are supposed to pronounce it. In English, if you read an "u" it can be pronounced in like five different ways.


"In" versus "on".

"Get on the bus"..."Punch you in the face"

[flips table]


All the faith he had had had had no effect on the outcome of his life is it correct.

Screw you English.


"Yesterday, I read in a book that(...)" 

I know how to read.

Both "reads" are spelt the same but pronounced quite differently. That's nonsense. 


The letter 'C'. I hated that freaking letter when I was young, you never know if its the 's' or 'k' sound when dealing with new words.


English can be pretty odd.

You're ish = Bad

You ain't ish = Bad

You're not ish = Good

You're the ish = Good


My parents' native tongue has no pronoun indication of gender and few gendered nouns (e.g. no words for "sister" and "brother" just "older sibling" and "younger sibling"), so they use the wrong gender pronouns for everything. So when they tell a story, they'll go back and forth between "he/him/his" and "she/her/hers" and confuse every one. 

They also struggle with articles (mom says "what a hell" and "what a heck") and complex verb conjugations like "they have been working."

Their language is Yoruba, and while it does have some gendered human pronouns like "father", "mother", "man", and "woman" it's somewhat limited. Like there's no word for niece or nephew, it could be "omo egbon" which are two genderless words meaning "child of my older sibling". The 3rd person pronoun for humans is completely genderless. 


How to properly pronounce beach and that other word that means 'female dog'. This leads to a bunch of mistakes early on.


Prepositions. How is one supposed to know the difference between all of these:

1) Look up to

2) Look up

3) Look down

4) Look down on

5) Look after

6) Look through

7) Look for

8) Look over

9) Look to

10) Look at


Pronunciation. I recently had a Skype call and was trying to say "Can't"

- I can't do that
- What?
- I can't do that
- You can?
- No, I can't
- Sorry, I don't understand, you can or you cannot
- (I realize I messed up) I can't
- I can... not! do that


Why is it when I say "hour and a half", it's fine, but when I say "two hours and a half" everyone laughs. I get it, I'm supposed to say "two and a half hours", but it will never make sense to me.

Also, why are people saying "have a good night" to me at 1 PM when we're in the same timezone? The sun doesn't go down for another 7 hours at least.


I would assume the various pronunciations of words with "ough" in them. Through, tough, bough, thought, thorough, though, trough...


Words that look like one that exists in your language.

Take college, for example. In French, there's the word "collge". Written almost the same way, very similar pronunciation, gotta be the same thing, right? NOPE. "Collge" is middle school, not college.

We call those words "fake friends" and there are a lot of them.

Also words with very similar pronunciations. Like glass versus glace. Not the same thing (glace means ice). 


Words that are spelled entirely different than they are pronounced. For example colonel and queue.


English vowels don't make the same sound in a word than in the alphabet. It's so annoying.


Read rhymes with lead, and lead rhymes with read. But read does not rhyme with read, and neither does lead with lead.


Inconsistency of the rules around pronunciation.

For example:

Laughter and slaughter are pronounced like LAFFTER and SLAWTER.

The heck?

Kansas and Arkansas two states, pronounced differently.


Silent. Freaking. Letters.


I cannot distinguish between the sound of W and V. They sound the same to me. I can interchange them and it won't matter to me. "Vawe" is the same as "Wave" to me.


The difference between British English and American English and the fact that when writing they have to agree. For example, if I spell the word "colour" with a U, then I cannot say "fall" because it is American, but "Autumn". Because of school, most of my spelling is British, but because of movies, my accent is closer to American.


Sometimes I just find that it's lacking words to describe things compared to my main language (Swedish). I have no trouble with English anymore but the rules and pronunciation of some words doesn't make a lot of sense either. I live in a English speaking country and my girlfriend is English and from time to time I just find the language lacking.



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