English is a Strange Language

Feb 23, 2023

English is a Strange Language

Author : Kumar R
Education : Msc IT
Profession : Director – Learning & Development, The Kanavu School of English, Sivagiri
Date : 23.02.2023

Mastering the English language is a great skill requiring time and effort. Even though this language has many norms, there are also many exceptions, which makes it challenging for non-native speakers to master. Here are some bizarre and intriguing language-related facts.


         Spelling can be hard for people who don’t speak English as their first language; because English has many words written in strange ways and doesn’t follow the usual rules for how they sound. Common English spelling challenges include silent letters, double letters, homophones, and homographs.

Silent letters, such as the “b” in “debt” and the “k” in “knight,” can make it difficult for learners to know which letters to include in a word. Double letters, such as the “t” in “letter” and the “s” in “possession,” can also be confusing because they are not always pronounced.

Words like “their,” “their,” and “they’re” are homophones because they sound the same yet have various meanings and spellings. It is vital for learners to pay close attention to spelling in order to communicate effectively and avoid misunderstandings.

People frequently mention the possible pronunciations of the letters “O-U-G-H” as an example. A few possible sounds in words that contain this letter combination are listed below.

/f/ in cough, enough, rough, and tough;

/ow/ in plough, bough, and sough; 

Homographs are words with identical spelling but distinct meanings and, in some instances, pronunciations. For instance, the term “bass” can be used to describe both a low-frequency sound and a species of fish. The term “bow” can apply to an arrow-firing tool or a specific kind of knot.The word “close” can mean to shut down or to be near in the distance. To comprehend the meaning of homographs, it is crucial to pay close attention to their usage context. Some other examples of homographs include “fair,” “tear,” “lead,” “wind,” and “read.” You need to work on homographs to master the English language.


         Many people find pronunciation problematic in learning English, as many subtle sounds and stress patterns are challenging for non-native speakers to master. One common difficulty is distinguishing between long and short vowel sounds, as well as the presence of silent letters in certain words. 

In English, vowel sounds can be long or short. Long vowel sounds are pronounced with a longer duration, while short vowel sounds are pronounced more briefly. For example, the vowel sound in the word “bit” is short, while the vowel sound in the word “beat” is long. It is crucial to distinguish between long and short vowel sounds in English, as they can change the meaning of a word. 

Weak forms cause confusion for English learners because they change the pronunciation of a word based on the context. Weak forms—alternative, shorter, and less distinct pronunciations—are sometimes used to link words or make spoken English sound more natural.

Weak forms of words like “of,” “to,” and “have” are common. Students must understand weak forms in order to better their English speaking skills, because improper use of a strong form can cause speech to sound artificial.

Additionally, the use of contractions and reduced forms can be perplexing for students. Overall, proper English pronunciation necessitates a great deal of practice and attention to detail. Mastering the English language necessities the appropriate pronunciation of the language.

Irregular Plurals:

           Irregular plurals in English are words that do not follow the standard rules for forming plurals. The plurals of “man” and “woman” are “men” and “women,” respectively. Similarly, the plural of “child” is “children,” and the plural of “foot” is “feet.” There are many other irregular plurals in English, such as “mouse/mice,” “goose/geese,” “tooth/teeth,” and “ox/oxen.” It is important to learn the correct plurals for these words in order to communicate effectively in English.

Phrasal Verbs:

    Phrasal verbs comprise a verb and one or two particles (such as “up,” “off,” or “out”). These particles can change the meaning of the verb in idiomatic ways. For instance, “break up” means “to terminate a relationship,” whereas “break down” indicates “to stop working.”

Some other common phrasal verbs include “pick up” (to lift or collect), “put off” (to postpone), “turn off” (to stop), and “run out” (to use up or exhaust). Phrasal verbs can be tricky for non-native English speakers to learn because their meanings are often not literally related to the meanings of the individual words in the phrase. To master the English language, you need to work on phrasal verbs.

Order of Adjectives:

The order of adjectives in English is vital because it helps to convey the desired meaning clearly and accurately. The general rule is to use adjectives in the following

order: opinion, size, age, shape, color, origin, material, and purpose. For example: “I have a small, old, square, wooden jewelry box.” In this sentence, “small” and “old” are opinions, “square” describes the shape of the box, “wooden” describes the material it is made of, and “jewelry” describes the purpose of the box. Using the correct order of adjectives is essential to avoid confusion and communicate effectively.

English is undoubtedly a unique language with its own set of rules and quirks. It can be challenging for non-native speakers to master the English language. However, it is also a language that is spoken internationally, making it an essential tool for communication and collaboration. Learning English can be a rewarding experience, as it opens up new doors and opportunities for personal and professional growth. 

One key to success in learning English is motivation. As you pursue your learning, having a positive mindset and setting clear goals are critical. Consider viewing the process of learning English as entertaining rather than a chore can also be helpful. By finding ways to make the learning experience enjoyable, you will be more likely to stay motivated and make progress.