What is the difference between

  1. He is hard to understand

  2. He is hard to being understood

Which one of the above should I use if I want to say that "He doesn't understand others much"?

Thank you as always:)

2 Answers 2


You asked how to say "he doesn't understand others much":

  • He is hard to understand does not mean this.
  • He is hard to being understood is incorrect English.

What you can say is:

  • He has trouble understanding others
  • He finds it hard to understand others
  • He doesn't understand others very well

And so on.

  • 1
    Thank you very much for your answer and it helped me know how to express myself correctly. But since 'He is hard to being understood' is incorrect, could you please help me again by telling if 'He is hard to be understood' correct and could you please tell me the grammar rule. And if the second one is correct then what is the difference between the first and the second one as well as why one is incorrect. Thank you very much.
    – Guri
    Dec 6, 2020 at 15:45
  • It's a bit difficult to give a quick explanation since your sentences are not grammatically correct, and even if they were correct, they would not mean what you want them to mean here. You want to talk about him understanding others, but all your examples have to do with others understanding him.
    – legatrix
    Dec 6, 2020 at 16:09
  • Actually the reason why you can't use 'hard to be understood' was famously investigated by Chomsky. He pointed out that 'John is easy to please' has a totally different structure to 'John is eager to please'. 'Hard' here is like 'easy', not 'eager'. So you can say 'John is eager to be pleased' but not 'John is easy to be pleased'. I'm not saying you should read the Chomsky, just pointing it out for interest.
    – legatrix
    Dec 6, 2020 at 16:12
  • 1
    Thank you so much @legatrix.
    – Guri
    Dec 6, 2020 at 16:39

"He is hard to understand" Is correct. Though it might be better to say:

People have trouble understanding him

The meaning is the same, but it is nicer to say.

"He is hard to being understood" Is incorrect, don't use this.

  • I'm afraid this misses the OP's intended meaning, though obviously grammatically correct.
    – legatrix
    Dec 6, 2020 at 8:28
  • 1
    Nice catch, I didn't understand what the OP was intending to say. I'm glad the others here were able to see that. Dec 6, 2020 at 16:14
  • maybe you can also help with the OP's comments to my answer? I don't have a quick answer.
    – legatrix
    Dec 6, 2020 at 16:16
  • 1
    Your answer is the closest to perfect I could get without further information from the OP. Have more confidence in your skills, Legatrix. Dec 7, 2020 at 4:51

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