have difficulty/ have a hard time /
have trouble/ struggle
+ ing

Among the four expressions above, what are the most common expression in daily conversation when I simply want to say it was hard or tough to do something? Are there any expressions that sound a little awkward in casual situations?

(ex- I struggled/ had difficulty/ a hard time/ trouble explaining the cultural difficulties)

1 Answer 1


I don't think any of these phrases would sound awkward in conversation, but they might have slightly different connotations.

I have difficulty doing the thing

Having difficulty may have more 'proper' connotation, and might sound more formal.

I have a hard time doing the thing

Having a hard time sounds more informal, and is mostly synonymous with having trouble with something.

I struggle with doing the thing

Struggling is a more formal way to say that you had trouble, but it usually implies that the struggle has lasted a long time with little gain. It is sometimes used with poetic undertones.

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