This page introduces the articles on this part of the site 'proving' that English is not such an easy language as some people claim.

English has something of a reputation for being an easy language; and it is certainly true that it does not have the complexities of the article system in German or the honorific system in Korean, in which the speaker must choose words according to several levels of familiarity with the person spoken to or about.

But in fact as soon as the learner of English progresses beyond basic levels, it quickly becomes clear that the English language is full of difficulties and inconsistencies. In each of the following newsletters I will examine one area of difficulty for learners of English and set a series of questions to test their knowledge.

Some articles on this part of the site focus on major grammar topics such as the present perfect. Others discuss the usage problems of single words such as quite or very.

As a brief taste of the difficulty of the present perfect, you might like to consider the following questions:

What is the difference in meaning between the statements: She's gone to the bank and She's been to the bank? And what is the only situation in which it would be normal to use the sentence : I've gone to the bank?

You can only use the statement: She's gone to the bank. if she is not here now; in other words she is either on the way to or from the bank or still at the bank.

She's been to the bank means that she is here now, having returned from the bank.

From this explanation it follows that the statement: I've gone to the bank! doesn't make sense when said. The only situation in which it is possible is as a written note which you leave to tell someone where you are.

Note 1: English learners make different kinds of "mistake" when using the language. It is important to have an understanding of these mistake types when reading the grammar discussions on this part of the website. There is an explanation on the page entitled Types of error.

Note 2: English has a large variety of dialects with distinctive vocabularies, spellings, pronunciations, and even grammars. I am British English native speaker, who grew up speaking the BE dialect known as Received Pronunciation.

The articles in this series are written from this perspective. Consequently, some of the assertions made in these pages will not hold true in different English dialects.

Note 3: Of course, native speakers also have problems with the English language. Here is the page dealing with common native-speaker errors.

You can get a good overview of the kind of problems facing the English language learner by visiting one of the online Question and Answer forums. I contribute answers on two of these forums. You can see a list of questions and my answers to them on the page: Stack Exchange: English language sites.

If you wish, before reading the articles in this part of the site, you can complete a short survey about your experiences learning the English language.