What is the most difficult aspect of the Japanese language?

Japanese is known to be one of the hardest languages for English speakers, and is very hard for speakers of many other European languages as well.

So my question for y'all is in your opinion, what is the most difficult about the Japanese language? In addition, what has helped you overcome these challenges. As well as what would you reccomend someone NOT do when coming across these challenges.

Of course, we all learn in different ways, and what works for you may not work for another person but hopefully this post will help others go about different methods of learning the most difficult aspects of Japanese that may not nessecairly be something that they've already thought of :)

August 5, 2019


The hardest thing has been learning the social rules of polite language. Like what degree of politeness you use.

August 5, 2019

My opinion, there are a lot of intricacies to the language. Sure, kanji is tough but that's more about reading Japanese and less about speaking it. When speaking, things like context is very important. How you say it is as important as what you say. Some words have the same spelling and pronunciation but the pitch pattern is different and gives the word a different meaning. If you say "ame" one way you're talking about a sweet like candy or donut. If you use a different pitch pattern it means "rain". If you say "It looks like ame a[low] me[high] outside, you're pretty much saying it looks like candy outside :)

August 6, 2019
  • Grammer? Not really. Very logical in some respects.
  • Pronunciation? Easy, compared to many other languages.
  • Writing system? Well, that's additional work compared to languages using e.g. Latin script. Hiragana/Katakana isn't that difficult - I've heard about teenagers learning Hiragana in just a week or so. Then add another week for Katakana. For me it was more like a month or two. Then there's Kanji, that takes longer but (using an efficient method) it'll take a few months. So, not too long considering that it takes years to learn a language anyway.
  • That the words are not related to words you already know (except for loanwords)? Well, that by itself is additional work for your memory. But achievable.

So, what is it then? What is it that makes it hard? At first, the language doesn't look so large. But then it dawns on you that there's the whole social construct. There's polite, colloquial, humble, honorific, and even male and female speech to some extent - get that wrong and you'll sound.. strange. Suddenly the language gets something like five times bigger. And knowing when to use what. That's what makes it hard for me.

August 6, 2019


August 5, 2019

I think particles are the most difficult. The way you order the particles can completely change the feeling and information conveyed in a sentence. For example, the following sentences grammatically express the same thing ("There are three windows in the room"), but they may all convey different feelings and information, especially when paired with additional sentences:

  1. へやにまどは三つありますか。

  2. へやにまどが三つありますか。

  3. へやにはまどが三つありますか。

  4. へやに三つまどがありますか。

From first hand experience, it can be very difficult to know how native Japanese speakers will interpret these sentences, and is the difference between becoming a passable or great Japanese writer and speaker. All due to rearranging a few particles.

August 9, 2019

Depends on what language(s) you already know. Koreans probably consider Japanese grammar to be extremely easy. Mongolians too? Turkish? Anyway, Chinese won't find Kanji hard. I'm Chinese and I don't find Kana very hard either - I learned all 90+ of them in a day and retained all by the week's end. (I find Korean Hangeul, "the world's simplest writing system", much harder for some reason.)

From what I read, ethnic Koreans in China (who are bilingual and, inevitably, have also studied some English in secondary schools) are able to learn Japanese in a couple of months and ace the N1 test.

August 7, 2019


August 5, 2019

Am unsure why people downvoted this. But regardless, はい!漢字が本当な難しですけどよ〜

August 6, 2019

Maybe because they don't understand what you are typing

August 6, 2019

Had this post been in a language other than Japanese or English, I would understand there being downvotes. However, this post is in the target learning language, Japanese which can encourage people to make an effort to comprehend and read in Japanese. You could use the kanji in the sentence and prior knowledge to understand what the sentence is saying. Or simply use Google Translate.

August 6, 2019

To be fair, people would've had an easier time understanding the Japanese you wrote if you both hadn't made the same mistakes in your sentences...

  • 本当な should be 本当に
  • 難し should be 難しい

It's ironic that the sentences you two wrote talk about how difficult kanji is... You both did perfectly fine with the kanji in those sentences! It seems like it was only the grammar you had a hard time with. :D

August 7, 2019

Definitely true, the fewer mistakes, the easier it is for people to understand what is being written! Kanji and grammar are both super hard but with time, it'll get easier. Unrelated but congrats on a 835 day streak! That's super long!

August 7, 2019

My guess would be that, as the question was asked in English, an answer in the same language would make sense. What sense would it make to answer a question in a way that the vast majority would not understand without the use of a translation software? Sure, it's a great way to show off and/or practice but what practical use would it have been to you had you not been able to translate it?

August 6, 2019

We're all at different stages of learning, some are beginners while others are advanced. It is up to you to either translate it with a software or to try to comprehend the sentence by using what you already know and by asking questions.

August 7, 2019
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