Nominalising verbs already gives us one way to say that something is easy or hard to do.

It’s difficult to read a newspaper in Japanese.
If you have a Suica card getting on the train in Japan is easy.

Another way to form these expressions is to use the following structures:

【Verb: Stem】やすい
【Verb: Stem】にくい

Once in this form the word acts and conjugates like i-adjectives.

An easy work environment.
Please explain it to me in a way that’s easy to understand.
She was with her friends so it was hard to strike up a conversation.

The meaning and nuance of both the nominalized form and the above structures is almost identical; however, using the verb stem with やすい or にくい is slightly more casual and perhaps more natural when the topic is less than serious.

The ~やすい and ~にくい structures are also used when the outcome isn’t necessarily something that you intended.

Easy to make a mistake.
Making a mistake is easy.

The former sentence is more natural as clearly you don’t intend to make a mistake.

It is worth mentioning that saying something is difficult by nominalizing the verb in Japanese is very often used to mean that you cannot do something that has been requested of you. Culturally speaking, saying so directly might be considered a little too direct so instead the person says it is difficult and assumes the real meaning is implied. This euphemistic usage does not usually apply to ~にくい.

My apologies. We cannot issue a refund without a receipt.

Note the use of the が particle at the end of the sentence to soften the refusal.

You May Also Like

Unwanted Similarity: ~っぽい

っぽい is typically used with adjectives and nouns to give your verdict on something based on how something…

Hearsay & Behaviour: ~そう & ~らしい

Although using そう with the standard form of the verb rather than the stem looks similar, the meaning…

Comparisons within a Group

This phrase let’s us say things like, “Out of all my school subjects, I like history the most”.…

Basic Japanese Verb Conjugations

There are three different groups of verbs in Japanese—referred to as group 1, 2, and 3 in textbooks.…