I’m sure I’m not alone in sometimes wishing that things were easier. Work tasks, instructions, directions – so many things that we deal with on a daily basis can prove difficult. Read this post and the next time you find something hard, you’ll at least have an interesting set of vocabulary with which to complain!
Let’s start with some really common synonyms. A task that is tricky is difficult, needing skill and care: Getting a cake out of a tin can be a bit tricky. In UK English, a fiddly task requires careful control of the hands, often because small parts are involved: It’s a fiddly task, fitting all the parts together. / I hate painting the fiddly bits in the corner.
Tough is another useful adjective. Something that is tough is difficult, needing a lot of mental or physical effort: It was a tough assignment to give to a new recruit. / We won but it was a really tough game.
Three useful adjectives ending in ‘ing’ exist in this area. Something that is demanding needs a lot of time, attention or energy: Teaching is very demanding. / a demanding job
The word taxing has a very similar meaning: I want a book to read on the beach – nothing too taxing. A challenging task, meanwhile, is difficult in a way that tests your ability or determination. This word has a positive connotation, suggesting that we enjoy being tested: I’d been doing the same job for years and was looking for something a little more challenging.
Something that is awkward is difficult to move or operate, for example because of its size or position: I find his car quite awkward to drive. The formal word unwieldy is similar, describing an object that is difficult to move or handle because it is large or a strange shape: We asked for help in getting the more unwieldy items down the stairs, such as the sofa.
Moving on to phrases, we say the informal phrase in the title Easier said than done about something that seems like a good idea but would be difficult to do: “We could get the kids to help out on the day.” “Hmm, that’s easier said than done!” In UK English, if you can do something at a push, you can do it, but it will be difficult: I guess at a push, we could finish this part of the project by June.
We say that a course of action is no soft option, meaning that it is difficult, even though other people may think it is not: A degree in sociology is certainly no soft option.
Whatever you’re doing this week, I hope it’s not too hard!