There are several verb suffixes used in Japanese which are used to represent something is easy or difficult.
- [verb in “pre-masu” form] + づらい => hard to do “verb”
- [verb in “pre-masu” form] + にくい => hard to do “verb”
- [verb in “pre-masu” form] + やすい => easy to do “verb”
To make the “pre-masu” form, simply conjugate the verb into the polite 〜ます form, and then remove the ます。For example:
- 食べる ＝＞ 食べます＝＞ 食べ
- 歩く ＝＞ 歩きます＝＞ 歩き
- 話す ＝＞ 話します＝＞ 話し
Here are a few example uses of the above:
- This meat is hard to eat.
- These shoes are easy to walk in!
- This is a difficult topic to talk about.
When you have a noun that is used together with する, you need to make sure you use し as the correct pre-masu form of する。
- This is an class that’s easy to study.
This is all setup for a funny story which happened to me recently where I wanted to say “Because of my allergies it’s hard to breathe”. How would you say this?
I ended up saying the following:
Here I said ‘ikizurai’ in katakana to emphasize the sound of what I said, as opposed to my intentions. I meant 息 ( いき／breathe) + づらい, but if you followed the above example you’ll see that this would correctly be 息しづらい, since 息する means to breathe.
Normally a mistake like this wouldn’t be a big deal, but unfortunately イキヅライ means something very different, 生きづらい, which roughly translates to “hard to live”, and uses from the verb 生きる (いきる／to live)
My innocent mistake of omitting a し gave my utterance a much more extreme meaning such that my allergy was making it hard to continue living.
I think my confusion was because in some cases verb endings can have a similar meaning even without the し. One such case is -はじめる, which means to start doing an action.
Both of these sentences are grammatically correct and mean “I will start studying”.
But as a general rule this is not the case, so to avoid embarassment make sure you use the proper pre-masu form when using verb endings.