Why the English language is hard to learn

Learning curveEditor’s Note: This came to me through Alan Guy, a frequent contributor when I had Happenstance, an online magazine. I Googled the content and found it in a couple of places, so as a disclaimer, neither Alan nor I wrote it, but it is worth looking at. These 21 reasons why English is hard to learn, also apply to writing. If you’re not on your toes you can easily misuse a word simply because your computer autocorrects what you’ve written, or you allowed spell check to make a decision for you. For instance – there, their and they’re are said in the same way, but have distinctive meanings. To, too and two? Same thing. There are lots of examples of words that sound alike but have different meanings. Read the list, and if you have time, in the comments section, send in your samples – in a sentence – of words that sound the same, but have different meanings, or sound the same, but are spelled differently, or can be used in different ways, or are spelled the same but sound different. Hmmm…. now I’m confused.

I’m not sure all the lines below are grammatically correct, but they are fun to read.

• The bandage was wound around the wound.
• The farm land was used to produce produce.
• The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
• We must polish the Polish furniture.
• He could lead if he would get the lead out.
• The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
• Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
• A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
• When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
• I did not object to the object.
• The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
• There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
• They were too close to the door to close it.
• The buck does funny things when the does are present.
• A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
• To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
• The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
• After a number of injections, my jaw got number.
• Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
• I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
• How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Now it’s your turn. Send in your sentences that contain homonyms, homophones, or homographs. And a bonus to the FIRST person who can tell me the difference between homonyms, homophones, and homographs :). The gift? Your choice of a subscription to Hunter’s Light, Pella’s Quest or a copy of my latest novel, Blind Curve.

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5 thoughts on “Why the English language is hard to learn

  1. Homonyms are pronounced alike but have different meaning, homophones have the same pronounciation, homographs have the same spelling. Obviously the terms overlap. I enjoyed the examples.


    1. You are the winner! You already have Blind Curve. Do you want Hunter’s Light, Pella’s Quest? I’ll send you the password if you’re interested.


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