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English Idioms

“a tough nut to crack”

a tough nut to crack


  • a hard problem to solve
  • a difficult person to understand or deal with

Frequency of Use: Low to Medium

Sample Sentences

  1. This grammar point is a tough nut to crack.
  2. Maria’s boyfriend is a real tough nut to crack. He says one thing, and then he does another, and I can’t figure him out.
  3. The police are trying to solve this case, but it is a hard nut to crack
  4. Don’t give up on your teenagers. They can be difficult nuts to crack, but the more you talk and listen to them, the more you will understand them.
  5. Finding a cure for the virus has been a somewhat difficult nut to crack, but we are making progress.

Conversation Questions

  1. When you have a roommate that is a tough nut to crack, how can you get to know the person better to improve the relationship?
  2. If passing an English test is a hard nut to crack, what can you do to improve your chances of success?
  3. Improving your pronunciation can be a tough nut to crack for many students. What suggestions do you have for learners to speak more fluently?

Speaking Situation

You started a new job at a computer company about two weeks ago, but you notice that your boss is not very communicative. He keeps to himself, eats lunch alone, and barely talks about anything besides work. He’s just a tough nut to crack; however, the other day, you saw your boss crying in his office holding a picture of his family.  What do you think has happened to your boss? What can you do to provide support in this difficult situation?

Language Activity

Sometimes, learners know the meaning of an idiom, but they don’t know how to use it correctly in conversation or writing. Thus, this activity checks your grammatical accuracy with the idiom so you become more confident in using it. 

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