English is Complex

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© Stuart Miles

Rudy Dees

Writer @ GoneWithTheWord

“English is considered one of the most difficult languages to learn, because it contains so many words that are pronounced the same but have different meanings.” — The Economist  

English can be confusing. Well it depends. It mostly depends on the learner’s native language. For example, Germanic languages closely related to English—will find English relatively straightforward, while learners whose first language is Mandrin (completely unrelated) or Russian (distantly related) will find English much harder.  

English is a difficult language to learn because it is so irregular in its spelling and pronunciation. Many words sound the same or are spelled the same and have multiple meanings. For example, the words bear and bare.  

Bare. As an adjective has two meanings: (of a person or part of the body) not clothed or covered, or only just sufficient (surprisingly small in number or amount). As a verb bare means to uncover (a part of the body or other thing) and expose it to view.  

Whereas, bear can be a verb or noun. As a verb it can mean (of a person) carry, or support, or endure (an ordeal or difficulty). That is three different verb types for one word. Bear can also be a noun: any of a family (Ursidae of the order Carnivora) of large heavy mammals of America and Eurasia that have long shaggy hair, rudimentary tails, and plantigrade feet and feed largely on fruit, plant matter, and insects as well as on flesh (Merriam-Webster, n.d.).  

There you have it—one word with the same sound that contains two different spellings and seven different definitions. And there is more…  

When do you use may have or might have? What is the difference?   May and might are two ways to express possibility. Some people insist that you should use may (present tense) when talking about a current situation and might (past tense) when talking about an event that happened in the past (Oxford Dictionaries, n.d.).  

According to Oxford Dictionaries (n.d.) it is still not known at the time of speaking or writing, either of the two is acceptable.

  • By the time you read this, he may have made his decision.
  • I think that comment might have offended some people.

  However, there is one “rule” that seems to be used: if the event or situation referred to did not in fact occur, it’s better to use might have.

  • If Harry Potter died the story might have ended differently.

  Is the English language difficult? The answer depends on your linguistic background according to The Economist. Yet two examples above show you the complexity of the English language—that is two examples of many.  

Yes. The English language is difficult. To this day, I still do not know all intricate parts of the language I was born to and educated in… but there’s still time.

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