Grammar Info
N4 Lesson 1: 3/18

Difficult to, Hard to

Verb[ます+ にくい
Verb[ます+ にくい + です
Register Standard
使用域 一般
Like 易(やす)い, にくい is an い-Adjective that is regularly attached to the ます stem of verbs. However, instead of meaning ‘easy to (A)’, it means ‘difficult to (A)’. (A) will always represent the verb that comes before にくい.
  • この駐車場(ちゅうしゃじょう)狭(せまい)から止(と)めにくい
    This parking lot is very cramped, so it is difficult to park.
  • 今日(きょう)具合(ぐあい)悪(わる)いから呼吸(こきゅう)にくい
    Because I am not feeling well today, it is hard to breathe.
The nuance of にくい is that (A) is a task that is difficult to do, because of the required skill level, or similar factors. This is different from づらい, which focuses more on a task that is difficult due to being unbearable/hard to endure for some reason.
  • 私(わたし)英語(えいご)「Literally」という単語(たんご)とても言(い)いにくい
    For me, the English word ‘literally’ is very hard to say. (Hard due to the individual's skill level)
  • お前(まえ)本当(ほんとう)言(い)いづらいけど、お前(まえ)ギター壊(こわ)し。ごめん。
    This is very difficult for me to say to you, but I broke your guitar. I'm sorry. (Hard because the speaker knows that telling the listener will cause a negative response)
Fun Fact
An easy way to remember the difference in nuance between にくい and づらい, is that にくい comes from the same kanji as 難(むずか)しい, which usually carries the meaning of ‘difficulty’ (in relation to skill being required).
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Cakes that aren't sweet are hard to eat.
It is hard to go to Africa.
It is difficult to do scary things.
Genki II 1st Edition
Page 163
Genki II 2nd Edition
Page 193
みんなの日本語 II
Page 120 [CH 44]
Marugoto Elementary 2 (A2) Rikai
[DBJG] A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar
Page 307
Tae Kim's Japanese Grammar Guide
Page 275
[AIAIJ] An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese
Page 16