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

Japanese Conjunctions: Before (前)

The basic structure we use to say “before” is: 【Subsequent Action】前まえに【Prior Action】 Both the subsequent and prior actions…

Because (から, ので)

We have already seen one way to express a reason or cause by using the te form. 電車でんしゃが遅おくれて、会社かいしゃに遅刻ちこくしました。…

Nominalising Adjectives: さ

For all adjectives—both i-adjectives and na-adjecitves—we can turn them into nouns with the particle さ. For i-adjectives we…

Grammar List

The below is a complete list of grammar on the site searchable by the hiragana. あ行 か行 さ行…