On the Difficulties of English in Plain Language

Big Big Book and Man

Today, everyone knows that learning English is fashionable and useful. Must-have, in two words (everyone should know). Those who are just beginning their thorny path of learning the Shakespeare's language worry for good reason. But is English so terrible as it is painted?


Sometimes, I wonder why the Latin language became dead, not English. How much better to read something as de facto or memento mori. Write how you hear! The situation with English is quite different. Each vowel has about 7 rules of reading and the same number of exceptions. Well, what do you want from the “islanders” and their features of national reading? Even if some new English word is shown to four Englishmen, each of them will read it in their own way as far as there are no rules of reading in this language, only exceptions.

That is how you teach that “i” is read in an open syllable as [ai] (for example, wife, like, price), and then you want to go with an English friend to go skiing on thin snow and invite him telling the phrase "Let’s Ski" sounding like [skai]. And then, try to prove that you do not need a balloon to fly through the sky. It is due to the fact that ski is an exception, which is read like [ski:]. As well as visa, give, minute.

At the same time, one can read the word “live” in two ways: [liv] – when it is a verb (e.g., to live on bread and water) and [laiv] – when it is an adjective (e.g., to conduct experiments with live rats)

The tendency to denote one sound with an exorbitant number of letters is also one more English nice national peculiarity, with which it is necessary to reconcile. Indeed, for what should one write “f” when you can use “ph”. Now, you can understand the Americans who turned night into nite and labour into labor.

Tired Man Closed the Face

Is it possible for mere mortals to learn all the rules? I can assure you that it is impossible even to the English native speakers themselves. The only way out is to use a transcription in the dictionary more often, to communicate a lot in English, and gradually accumulate knowledge. One day, you will notice that you can intuitively feel a correct variant of reading of some words. If it happened, congratulations, the British are doing the same.

Verb Tenses

The dream of English learners is that the number of verbs’ tenses were the same as the number of seasons. In principle, it is so. If you multiply this number by 3. You will get 12 main tenses in English. And besides them, there are all sorts of mysterious Future-in-the-Past. Little remark: if you are a beginner, for now, use the Scarlet O'Hara method:

Scarlet O'Hara <'I will not think about the mysterious tenses now, I will think tomorrow.'>

Compared with reading, the English verbs ‘tenses have some logic. Past, Present, and Future are three strong points. Each of these times can be simple, continuous, perfect, and perfect continuous. To determine which of them to use is possible by adverbial markers in the text: for Past Simple, such an alarm signal will be ago, last week; for Present Perfect – never, ever. And then just take the textbook of Murphy in your hands and go ahead to do the exercises. In addition, do not forget to learn by heart the table of irregular verbs, then you will have a complete verbal-temporal happiness.


Everything is no so hard here. Thanks to the British for not having invented the articles of the female and masculine gender as in some other languages. It is only necessary to distinguish the definite article from the indefinite.

The vs A

For this, it is useful to remember that the article "a" appeared from the numeral "one." And the article "the" is a variation of "this" or “that.” In general, delving in the past is very useful. Articles did not appear out of nothingness. For instance, it was just more inconvenient to say one letter “a” instead of word “one” every time. In colloquial speech, "one" quickly decreased to "a". And there was the way an article “a” appeared, exciting the minds of poor students learning English.

The same with "the." In colloquial speech, that and this gradually turned into a capacious “the.” Accordingly, every time you can replace the article with a numeric one – “a” is used as well. And when you can replace the demonstrative pronoun that or this, “the” is used.

Example: you sit in a restaurant, and you want to drink wine to clear your head after reading English grammar. You can gently hint to your admirer that you want to take one glass of wine (I want a glass of wine). Or you can brazenly say that you want exactly the glass of wine that he holds in his hand now (I want the glass of wine!). Everything depends on your good breeding.

Irregular Verbs

Yes, in fact, it would be strange to expect that the British will make their own life easier by placing everything under certain rules. What an excitement to understand that the most frequently used English verbs do not have a simple ending -ed. So it is easier to confuse a foreign guest. Let him/her try to guess that to went is actually to go in the past tense, and to ate is to eat. Any student can recall hateful tables with irregular verbs. Alas, the only way out is to learn the list. There are 270 verbs in total. Well, finally you have what to do at your leisure. One verb per day – and a year has passed!

In general, an English grammar system is really harmonious. Trying to find something complicated in it, the foreigners decided to stop on tenses and irregular verbs.

I remember my friend from Great Britain. When I first talked to him, he softly said at the end of the conversation: "Why so complicated?" Would have my English teacher heard how my British friend communicated! She would put “E.” But they like it.

For example, while at the airport, you with horror in your eyes are trying to say the phrase "Could you tell me where the bus station is?", the Englishman will have time to drink a cup of tea, check the clock with Big Ben, and after smoking a pipe, he will say a simple "there". You will be treated more sympathetically if you just say: "Bus? Where?" Be sure: you will be held until the very bus station.

Hence the moral: Genius lies in simplicity. In this sense, English is leading in comparison with many other European languages. Do not be lazy, communicate, read, and learn!

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