What is the best thing to call hard English texts? I mean texts that are hard language-wise, and for example are very hard for non-native readers.

  • Texts with hard English?

  • Texts with a hard English?

  • Texts with heavy English?

  • Tough English texts?


I would suggest Challenging English texts or advanced English texts

As a native English speaker, if I were to see something like this on a foreign language learning site, I would expect to see them described in English as:

  • Advanced English texts
  • Challenging English texts
  • Difficult English texts
  • Hard English texts

Which one you want will depend on context.

Advanced does not literally mean "hard," but it indicates that they are for use by advanced students of the language only, and the implication is that the language is difficult.

Challenging indicates that they will be a challenge for the reader, but also has a positive implication: a challenge can be a good thing; a difficulty or hardship is a bad thing.


Formal language is an expression used to describe a text, speech... that is elegantly composed using pertinent words. It is usually used for literature and poetry.

The contemporary definitions for formal language from the dictionary reference is:

any language that is ceremonial or using a "high" register or hard words, such as a sermon, lecture, or poetry

So, it is indeed hard language-wise, and very hard for non-native readers.

In your case you would say: A formal English text.

  • 1
    Writings in say Scouse and Geordie are rarely labelled 'high register'. Or 'easy'. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 7 '14 at 8:43
  • You haven't addressed the issue, it's not whether English can be hard to grasp or understand, but how to express that concept. The OP has supplied several options, which you ignored. – Mari-Lou A Sep 7 '14 at 8:46
  • @Mari-Lou A The OP question is 'What is the best thing to call hard English texts?'. IMO this expression is better than the answers the OP provided. Providing a different answer implicitly implies this, doesn't it? – Mina Sep 7 '14 at 8:56
  • You've now supplied a more complete answer in your edit. – Mari-Lou A Sep 7 '14 at 8:59
  • 4
    Like @Edwin implied, there are many cases where high register and erudite words do not necessarily have anything to do with how difficult a text is to a non-native reader. As an example, I’m currently re-reading At Swim, Two Boys by Jamie O’Neill; the book starts: “There goes Mr. Mack, cock of the town. One foot up, the other foot down. The hell of a gent. With a tip of his hat here and a top of the morn there, tip-top, everything’s dandy. He’d bare his head to a lamppost.” That’s not high register or formal language, but a non-native speaker would probably find the book immensely hard. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 7 '14 at 9:16

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.