Grammar Info

N4 Lesson 1: 3/18


Difficult to, Hard to


Verb[ます+ にくい


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About にくい

Like (やす), にくい is an い-Adjective that is regularly attached to the ます stem of verbs. However, instead of meaning 'easy to (A)', it means 'difficult to (A)'. (A) will always represent the verb that comes before にくい.

The nuance of にくい is that (A) is a task that is difficult to do, because of the required skill level, or similar factors. This is different from づらい, which focuses more on a task that is difficult due to being unbearable/hard to endure for some reason.

Fun Fact

An easy way to remember the difference in nuance between にくい and づらい, is that にくい comes from the same kanji as (むずか)しい, which usually carries the meaning of 'difficulty' (in relation to skill being required).




    Cakes that aren't sweet are hard to eat.


    It is hard to go to Africa.


    It is difficult to do scary things.


    That person is hard to talk to. (Unapproachable)


    Because this cup has a strange shape, it is hard to drink out of.

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にくい – Grammar Discussion

Most Recent Replies (1 in total)

  • oddic


    漢字は覚えにくいと思う。This is almost exactly the sentence where Genki warns that it is odd to use にくい (this case being an example of difficulty defined in terms of physical or statistical success rate). They say that 漢字は覚えにくい should be interpreted as “I have kanji anxieties” instead of commenting on the general process of learning kanji. They advise using 難しい to express the latter. Can anyone shed some light?

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