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Using ser fácil/difícil + infinitive vs ser fácil/difícil de + infinitive

It is often difficult to know whether to say:

es fácil/difícil de hacer or es fácil/difícil hacer

We can say both. Have a look at these examples:

El armario es fácil de montar.The wardrobe is easy to put together.

Es fácil montar el armario.It is easy to assemble the wardrobe.

We use the preposition "de" after the adjective when the subject is "the thing" (el armario), not when the subject is "doing something" (montar el armario).

Here are other examples with the adjective difícil:

Los guisantes no son difíciles de cultivar.Peas are not difficult to grow.

No es difícil cultivar guisantes.It is not difficult to grow peas/Growing peas is not difficult.

This is true for all adjectives. Here are more contrasting examples:

El subjuntivo en español es complicado de explicar.The subjunctive in Spanish is complicated to explain.

Es complicado explicar el subjuntivo en español.It is complicated to explain the subjunctive in Spanish/Explaining the subjunctive in Spanish is complicated.

El sonido de los pájaros es agradable de escuchar por las mañanas.The sound of birds is nice to hear in the morning.

Es agradable escuchar el sonido de los pájaros por las mañanas.It is nice to hear the sound of birds in the morning.

It is common to see muy and tan in front of the adjective in this construction. For example:

La historia es muy difícil de seguir. Tiene muchos personajes.The plot is very difficult to follow. It has a lot of characters.

Esa canción es tan bonita de escuchar...That song is so lovely to listen to...

See also Using [verb] + tan + [adjective/adverb] + que to say "so... that..." and Forming exclamatory sentences with qué + noun + más/tan + adjective

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Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

La historia es muy difícil de seguir. Tiene muchos personajes.The plot is very difficult to follow. It has a lot of characters.
Es complicado explicar el subjuntivo en español.It is complicated to explain the subjunctive in Spanish/Explaining the subjunctive in Spanish is complicated.
El armario es fácil de montar.The wardrobe is easy to put together.
El sonido de los pájaros es agradable de escuchar por las mañanas.The sound of birds is nice to hear in the morning.
Montar el armario es fácil.Putting together the wardrobe is easy/It is easy to put the wardrobe together.
Es agradable escuchar el sonido de los pájaros por las mañanas.It is nice to hear the sound of birds in the morning.
No es difícil cultivar guisantes.It is not difficult to grow peas/Growing peas is not difficult.
El subjuntivo en español es complicado de explicar.The subjunctive in Spanish is complicated to explain.
Los guisantes no son difíciles de cultivar.Peas are not difficult to grow.
Esa canción es tan bonita de escuchar...That song is so lovely to listen to...
Es fácil montar el armario.It is easy to assemble the wardrobe.
Let me take a look at that...