I know there is an expression "learn something the hard way". Is it correct to use a similar phrase but with the opposite meaning? Or is it correct to say "Learn English in an easy way"?

Sentence: Learn English the easy way

For example, I found this book with the same phrase in the title I'm asking about, but I can't be sure whether it's correct to say so.


And here's the expression with the negative meaning https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/learn-the-hard-way

Also, "learn English in an easy way" has more search results than "learn English the easy way."

  • 2
    The simple answer is that "the easy way" is idiomatic; "in an easy way" is not.
    – stangdon
    Aug 29, 2022 at 18:49

1 Answer 1


"In the easy way" is not found after "English", only "the easy way".

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A similar results follows for "did it (in) the easy way"; "in" is not found.

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This remains true for the following verb forms.

made: made it the easy,made it in the easy

do: do it the easy,do it in the easy

These results show that for most verbs, at least, the preposition is not used; it will even sound unnatural; however, it can still be used.

Instances of its use can be found in the past century and still today.

This dropping of the preposition applies more generally. Here is what can be read in CoGEL.

(CoGEL § 17.20) With expressions of manner and reason […] there is no preposition :
• That's the way (that) he did it. ['That's how he did it.']

• Is this the reason (that) they came? ['Is this why they came?']

In more formal style, we might find […] :
• That's the way in which he did it.

(CoGEL § 8.79) Noun phrases with way, manner, and style as head tend to have the definite article:
• She cooks chicken the way I like.
• She cooks chicken in the way I like.
• She cooks chicken in a way I like.

This shows that you can use constructions on the model of the following.

  • Do it the hard way.
  • Do it the other way.
  • Do it the same way.
  • Do it any way you want to.

However, for instance, people still use a lot "in the same way" (ngram, examples-prep., examples-no prep.), which seems to have regained some popularity recently.

  • 1
    Just because most English speakers don't add an unnecessary word doesn't mean that adding that word is ungrammatical or sounds funny. Aug 29, 2022 at 18:22
  • There is at least one exception to the statement “for most verbs, at least, the preposition is not used”: where the adjective describing the way something is done is the superlative. “He always chose to do things in the easiest way possible.” Sentences with superlatives will sound very unnatural if you leave out “in”: “He always chose to do things the easiest way possible” grates on my ears as a native speaker. Oct 29, 2022 at 22:53

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