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pineapples pile fruit shutterstock_370287722
take the word “pineapple” for granted.


  • There are many simple words in the English language
    that are hard for foreign speakers to master.
  • That’s because English words often have several
    different meanings and can be difficult to pronounce.

English is a notoriously difficult language to learn, from its
inconsistent pronunciation to the endless list of irregular

For some people learning the language, it’s extremely difficult
to nail down relatively simple words that many native speakers
take for granted.

Business Insider reached out to the online language-learning
platform Duolingo to find
out some of the most difficult words in English for non-native
speakers to learn. The site collected data from speakers of
Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, and Arabic and came up with 15
simple words that are especially tough.

  • Bench
  • Ceiling
  • Apartment
  • Mushroom
  • Toes
  • Isle
  • Shore
  • Addition
  • Net
  • Dish
  • Leaf
  • Its
  • Pineapple
  • Lounge
  • Harbor

For many of the words, its the spelling and pronunciation that
cause trouble for English learners, a spokeswoman for Duolingo
told Business Insider. It isn’t immediately clear how “isle” and
“ceiling,” for example, should sound.

In other cases, difficulty arises when a word is polysemous, or
when it has multiple meanings. “Shore,” “dish,” “harbor,” “net,”
and “lounge” all could mean various things depending on the
context, and it can be difficult for English learners to suss out
the correct context.

And then there’s pineapple, a fruit which contains neither pine
nor apple. Imagine teaching someone that word for the first time,
and you can understand its inclusion on the list. It’s just one
of the many deceptively tricky words that comprise the colorful
English language.

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