is there a need to specify why someone is difficult after calling them difficult?

For example:

Say, someone asks me:

"How is your relationship with your roommates?"

And I reply:

"My roommates are too difficult."

Instead of

"My roommates are too difficult to deal with"

"difficult to deal with explains why they're difficult. Is there really a need to write that extra piece? Can only "They're too difficult" do the job?

3 Answers 3


According to Cambridge Dictionary, a person who is difficult is not easy to deal with. I think it would be wordy to say difficult to deal with.

I loved him, but he could be difficult at times.

Sometimes, though, you want to clarify why you think that person is difficult.

His standards are sometimes impossibly high and because of this he is difficult to please.

His efforts to adhere to the programme of assumption-free thinking is one of the reasons why he is difficult to understand.


Neither is incorrect, but your meaning should be understood just fine either way. I would say though that in my experience "They're difficult" sounds more natural than "They're too difficult", because the word "too" often (but not always) precedes some further explanation.

  • 1
    I would consider "too difficult" like this entirely idiomatic. Trying to analyse it formally might raise the question "too difficult for what?", but people frequently use "too" on its own as an emphatic, in my experience.
    – SamBC
    Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 16:50

"My roommates are too difficult" seems entirely idiomatic to me. With context, it's that they are too difficult for you to deal with.

Difficult, applied to a person, doesn't require further elaboration to say what might be difficult in relation to them. Being difficult is a characteristic that people discern in others.

Too might seem to require a point of comparison, like the purpose for which they are too difficult, but people don't actually use it like that so much. In common usage, it can be a general purpose emphatic, like very or really.

So, overall, your first version is fine. Your second version has unnecessary - but not excessive - detail. It's more specific about what you find difficult about them.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .