I absolutely adore the English language with all of its ups and downs, twists and turns, astounding hyperboles and alliterative inclinations. And let's not forget the puns! However, it's no secret that the language can be a tad… discombobulating for new students, anyone who's learning English as a second language, and native speakers alike.

To show you what we mean, the literature-loving philology fans here at Bored Panda have collected the most hilarious and honest examples of people showing how frustrating the English language can be for them. Have a read below, upvote your fave posts, and remember to share your own experience with the exciting journey that is learning English.

#1

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Nadine Debard
Community Member
1 month ago

Oh dear... O.o

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#2

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Ozacoter
Community Member
1 month ago

I love english and its probably my favourite language for its grammal simplicity and plasticity. But the random pronunciation drives me insane.

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#3

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Phendrena
Community Member
1 month ago

Needs more upvotes. "the sound a plunger makes" outstanding and 100% hilarious

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During an earlier interview, I spoke to Dr. Lisa McLendon about the difficulties that foreign students face when learning English, as well as how to keep our linguistic skills sharp. Dr. McLendon is the News and Information Track Chair at the University of Kansas School of Journalism and Coordinator at the Bremner Editing Center.

According to Dr. McLendon, a lot of the difficulties that foreign students face depend on the languages that they already know. Those who know languages similar to English in their structure and logic will have an easier time.

#4

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N G
Community Member
1 month ago

I love that example!

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#5

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Elsie Shdid
Community Member
1 month ago

I had to say that in my mind like 50 times until it made sense

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#6

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Vicky Z
Community Member
1 month ago

If I try to write that i think i will break my corrector

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“For students whose native language lacks articles (a, an, the), articles are by far the hardest category of words to master. Verb tense/aspect is also really hard—the difference between ‘I read,' ‘I am reading,' and ‘I do read' is nonexistent in many other languages,” the language expert explained.

#7

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Dynein
Community Member
1 month ago

Yeah but that's true for every language. You rarely have "full" synonyms that are completely interchangeable in every context (non-native speakers are generally detectable by breaking unspoken context rules) . Apart from minute differences in meaning, most words also have meanings beyond the thing they describe, such as opinion.

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#8

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Your Average Pooh
Community Member
1 month ago (edited)

And did you pick him up?

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#9

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troufaki13
Community Member
1 month ago

Why is the nose running and the feet smell???

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Just memorizing common words doesn't help overcome these linguistic barriers. What needs to happen is for the student in question to completely shift their mindset. That and practice things until the quirks of the English language become second nature to them.

“These don't pose any difficulties for native speakers who use them correctly without even thinking about it,” Dr. McLendon said about the linguistic nuances.

#10

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Nadine Debard
Community Member
1 month ago

*Takes notes*. Don't use s**t when talking to someone...

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#11

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Chris Wade
Community Member
1 month ago

This is brilliant.

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#12

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Bron
Community Member
1 month ago

Love this one!

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It's not just foreign speakers that have issues with the language, though. The professor highlighted that in her experience as an editor and an educator, she found that native speakers have trouble with past passive participles in speech (e.g. saying ‘I had went').

What's more, when it comes to writing, native speakers have issues with punctuation, homophones (e.g. peek vs. peak), and misplaced modifiers.

#13

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Oerff On Tour
Community Member
1 month ago

It will say BOOM later on

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#14

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N G
Community Member
1 month ago

Lining up in silence, exactly as a queue should be!

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#15

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Dynein
Community Member
1 month ago

Sarcasm, I guess. Use the word in a sarcastic context too often and it changes the meaning to the opposite. Happens frequently.

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Dr. McLendon suggested that nobody rest on their laurels. Learning's a lifelong mission and improving our English skills is no exception. And if we want to keep our minds well-honed and our quills sharp, then we're going to have to get some good habits under our belts.

#16

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troufaki13
Community Member
1 month ago

Also "gaol" O.O

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#17

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Lotten Kalenius
Community Member
1 month ago

Shouldn't "emordnilap palindrome" simply be a palindrome?

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#18

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guy greej
Community Member
1 month ago

I warn bored panda to remove this one. This could cause various murders by the readers here.

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“Read! Read widely and frequently. Read magazines, newspapers, novels, even cereal boxes,” the language expert told Bored Panda. “But be careful when scrolling through social media, which although it can give you a good idea of current slang and shorthand, it's often not a great model of clarity, accuracy, or good grammar.”

#19

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Your Average Pooh
Community Member
1 month ago (edited)

...... foreign neighbour's heifer

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#20

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Oerff On Tour
Community Member
1 month ago

Quite impressive

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#21

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Jihan Kim
Community Member
1 month ago

isn't that convenient?

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When it comes to pronunciation, though, Dr. McLendon pointed out that both native speakers and foreign students alike have problems with it. Especially when we're talking about less common words like ‘epitome.'

“I've known lots of people who learned words by reading, not by hearing, and so had no idea how they were pronounced. But for people learning English, pronunciation can be a real nightmare,” the professor said.

#22

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Nicola Roberts
Community Member
1 month ago

I was taking a TEFL (Teaching English as a foreign Language) qualification in Japan, and one of the exercises I had to do was read to a class of students. The one word that stuck in my mind was black bird versus blackbird. The difference is so subtle, but I hadn't given it any thought until you had to explain the difference.

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#23

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Kari Panda
Community Member
1 month ago

My English teacher taught me not to use "handy" in English because it would be a derogatory term for handicapped people. Is that true?

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#24

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Issac
Community Member
1 month ago

*jabs finger at my screen* America explain!!!

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“We have words that are spelled similarly but pronounced differently (bomb/comb/tomb) and words that are spelled differently but sound the same (peek/peak/pique). Plus, English has a lot of words that have silent letters, which can be confusing.”

#25

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Victor Botha
Community Member
1 month ago

And here is another strange "Americdnism" I spit my cereal, I would say I spat my cereal...

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#26

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Your Average Pooh
Community Member
1 month ago

Whoever came up with those names for the hair colors were color blind

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#27

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Vicky Z
Community Member
1 month ago

That would be a nice nickname for bored panda!

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Dr. McLendon was candid that English is much more chaotic than other languages in terms of how spelling reflects pronunciation and vice versa. “English is a Gallic overlay on a Germanic base, plus it has borrowed liberally from languages all around the world throughout its development,” she told Bored Panda.

#28

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Cassie
Community Member
1 month ago

I have a medical condition which resulting in tearing of the cornea. When I write that, people sometime get confused. My cornea doesn't produce liquid, it rips apart and is excruciatingly painful, but tearing can make it feel a little better because the liquid lubricates and protects the tear.

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#29

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CalicoKitty
Community Member
1 month ago

Fun with sounds and spelling

King Joffrey
Community Member
1 month ago

A/an is governed by the first sound, not the first letter of the word that goes after.

Martin Kaine
Community Member
1 month ago

But I can't rectify "an historian." I know it is correct, but it bothers me.

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tuzdayschild
Community Member
1 month ago

When a word beginning with "u" has a "y" sound, it's "a" as in "a unique idea". When a word beginning with "u" has a "u" sound, it's "an" as in "an ugly sweater party".

Stephanie Keith
Community Member
1 month ago

I was taught you only use an in front of words that start with vowels. A is used for words that are consonants. It's the easiest and best way to remember when to use an versus a.

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Jo Johannsen
Community Member
1 month ago

Speaking of vowels, tomorrow has three o's, all of which are pronounced differently.

Bobert Robertson
Community Member
1 month ago

don't forget! Y is SOMETIMES a vowel. Hydro yes, yes no.

Lindy Mac
Community Member
1 month ago

and sometimes Y ( makes 6 vowels) That should really piss the first guy off.

Clearstone
Community Member
1 month ago

Told this to my friend and they straight up stopped and asked me what I am doing with my life

Requiem
Community Member
1 month ago

it just sounds better like that

Alethia Nyx
Community Member
1 month ago

Wait till he learns how it works with H, which isn't even a vowel. Pretty much if it starts with a silent H you say an (an honour), if you say the H its a (a horror).

Kira Okah
Community Member
1 month ago

It goes by the initial sound, not the initial letter.

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El Dee
Community Member
1 month ago

Unicorn is You-nicorn. No need for 'an' in front of it. But we say 'a history book' but 'AN historical event' because English people often drop their H's. For anyone but English people 'AN historical event' is difficult and clunky to say..

Mikhael Barreto
Community Member
4 weeks ago

I grew up studying English to the point I know what is 'right' or not... And I have no idea why the correct way is correct. :D

Lena Hill
Community Member
1 month ago

UH vs yoo

Lynn Morello
Community Member
1 month ago

And it is an 'H' not a 'H';

ButterScot
Community Member
1 month ago

...and sometimes Y...

Swyft
Community Member
1 month ago

just say it however it sounds good, you should be mostly fine

M Kate McCulloch
Community Member
1 month ago

and the weirdest one, An historian... logic the hell out of it all you want - still not gonna make sense

anonymous
Community Member
1 month ago

why forget y? "a e i o u and sometimes y" anyone?

J
Community Member
1 month ago

Also y is used as instead of a vowel as in sty.

LazyPanda
Community Member
1 month ago

This is why good teachers teach the verbal use of a language before the writing and reading of it, just as children learn

noralin
Community Member
1 month ago

Oh dear, I just hated that tv show. All that yelling and fighting and swearing...

Kimberley Gayle Thomas
Community Member
1 month ago

I was taught as a kid that ‘y’ is a vowel as well. Perhaps a rare one such as in my, by, etc. Dont remember if there’s a special term for that.

Michiel nospam
Community Member
1 month ago

Yumbrella...

Kira Okah
Community Member
1 month ago

When people don't realise that English doesn't actually have five vowels...

Alditekim
Community Member
1 month ago

Classic! An university. A hour.

Jane Alexander
Community Member
1 month ago

There are 5+ vowels; AEIOU and sometimes Y

Emme Magnolia
Community Member
1 month ago

a,e,i,o,u and sometimes y

Leo Domitrix
Community Member
1 month ago

An precedes a vowel sound; a precedes a consonant sound. it's not the spelling. Or so I was taught. Thus, if it's "you-ni-corn", that a consonant sound. Even though Y can be a vowel. Yeah, I know, right?

Rob Gordon
Community Member
1 month ago

A/an is about vowel sounds. The u in unicorn is more like a y, while in umbrella it is a true u sound. It is why in American English we say a history and in UK English the sam an history. The h in UK history is almost silent.

Chris
Community Member
1 month ago (edited)

No it's not, we fully pronouce the h (at least in the south). And we wouldn't say "an history".

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Robert T
Community Member
1 month ago

Well there are really 5 and a half vowels as 'y' is sometimes treated as a vowel. I'd not though about "unicorn", but the normal rule is that if it begins with a vowel it is "an" - this goes a bit wonky with initials for things e.g. an MOT but that is because it is really em-oh-tee so it starts with a vowel! I think I'm about to have a vowel movement!

Stephanie Keith
Community Member
1 month ago

I was taught you only use an in front of words that start with a vowel. A should be used for consonants. So an apple, a bat, an elephant, a dog, an igloo, a jacket, an octopus, a puppy, an umbrella. You only use an if the next word starts with a vowel.

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#30

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speer5884@msn.com
Community Member
1 month ago

And the B in tomb is silent, and the E in time is silent, and the T in often is silent, and the H in honor is silent, how do you pronounce BETH? It's all silent letters!

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“When a word comes into English, where it comes from, and when a spelling gets standardized all affect how a word is written in relation to how it sounds. Other languages may not be exactly ‘spelled like it sounds' but have set patterns of how pronunciation does not correspond with spelling.”

#31

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Thomas Sweda
Community Member
1 month ago

Because the Frigidaire brand became so popular that “fridge” was used as the term for all refrigerators.

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#32

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Bron
Community Member
1 month ago

Fairly sure this is because U used to be written as a V

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#33

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Victor Botha
Community Member
1 month ago

Why do Americans say dove instead of dived? He dived into the pool, not he dove into the pool. That is what I was taught at school anyway. Also hanged and hung He was hanged from the tree, not he was hung from the tree. Is this a specifically American thing. No offence, just genuinely would like to know.

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#34

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BingeFest1
Community Member
1 month ago

Welcome to the English language

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#35

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Shaun May
Community Member
1 month ago

The country’s starting letter(s) switched from ‘f’ to ‘ph’ when Spanish rule was replaced by American rule. No idea why the same did not happen to the demonym, however.

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#36

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Lolalolalola
Community Member
1 month ago

:o

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#37

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Bron
Community Member
1 month ago

English is definitely not boring

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#38

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Helenium
Community Member
1 month ago

Human was first recorded in the mid 13th century, and owes its existence to the Middle French humain “of or belonging to man.” That word, in turn, comes from the Latin humanus, thought to be a hybrid relative of homo, meaning “man,” and humus, meaning “earth.” Thus, a human, unlike birds, planes, or even divine spirits up above, is a man firmly rooted to the earth

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#39

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N G
Community Member
1 month ago

You used to be able to just step on the bus and remain standing (back when there were conductors and the entrance/exit was at the back). Time moves on and language doesn't. Do you still hang up the phone?

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#40

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N G
Community Member
1 month ago

The capitalisation aids understanding, but spoils the effect.

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Note: this post originally had 82 images. It’s been shortened to the top 40 images based on user votes.