Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"
english vocabulary word challenge

What is something that challenges you?

Do you like to be challenged or does this frustrate you?

We’re going to look at the word “challenge” and how it can be used, and what it means in different contexts.

This is a word that you are likely to hear a lot in English, and so you want to know how to use it in conversation.

There are many different challenges in life, so you want to know how this works and how to talk about it in conversation.

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Today we have a question about the word “challenge” that may be very useful to you.

Hi to you ladies,

I love your show and listen to it everyday! I have a question about the word “challenge.” I’m hoping you can help me to answer this and understand this word better.

When I was talking with my native friend about him learning Japanese, he said “It didn’t challenge me!” That was his response when I asked him how he found it to be to learn Japanese.

I wondered if this was something that native speakers understood and so I looked it up online later. I wanted to understand it and be able to use it, but I just couldn’t find a good example of this particular usage.

I would really appreciate an explanation on how we can use the word “challenge” on the podcast!!

Thank you,

Nishikawa Kenta

Looking At This and Understanding Its Usage

You have probably heard the word “challenge” used quite often in English.

This is one of those words that has a very distinct meaning, but can also be versatile in its usage.

In the example it seems as though the friend doesn’t find learning Japanese to be very difficult.

In this context, saying that it didn’t challenge you means that it didn’t make me work too hard, or that it wasn’t too difficult.

When we look at the word challenge it basically means something that pushes you or that is a little bit difficult.

You may rise to this challenge, but it may also force you to push yourself more than you anticipated or expected.

There are some challenges that are welcome and make you better.

There are some challenges that can be very difficult and you may feel as if they set you up for failure.

Whatever the challenge may be, it’s going to push you outside of your comfort zone and make you work a little bit harder.

Looking at a couple of examples can show you how to use this word and how a challenge may work.

“It’s challenging for me to get there at 8:00 because of the train schedule.”

“I want to do exercises that are a little more of a challenge for me at this point.”

“My work challenges me, which is good because I am never bored.”

These examples can all help to give you an idea of how this word works and what a challenge can do for you.

Other Ways To Use This Word

This is truly a dynamic word, and therefore it can be used in many different ways.

Though you may be used to hearing the word “challenge” as it is used in the previous examples, there are other ways to use it as well.

See how you can use this word in various ways, and then try each of them in conversation.

  • Use it as a way of questioning something: You may not agree with the outcome, the result, or even the process. You may have concerns or questions, and so you want to challenge it. You might hear something like “The student challenged his teacher’s grading system.” 
  • As a way to compete or even dare somebody: You are almost putting a challenge right out there. It’s as if to say that you want them to prove themselves to you. It can also be an outright dare, which can make for an interesting conversation. You could say “I challenge you to a spelling bee.” You could also say something like “I challenge you to find a better dog walker than Tracy.”

These are both common ways to use the word “challenge” in a different context.

Try each of them so that you can get a feel for how they work in your conversations.

Is It Good To Challenge Yourself?

Since we’re looking at the word “challenge” and figuring out how to use it, this is a great time to do some soul searching.

This brings you to a really good question that you may ask yourself from time to time–is it good to challenge yourself?

There are many different opinions on this and many different ways to look at this.

You might feel that challenging yourself can just leave you feeling disappointed and frustrated.

You might feel instead that challenging yourself can be a great way to stay motivated and focused, thus helping to drive you further towards what you want.

It can be good to challenge yourself, but it’s good to know when to take a break or step away.

This is all about balance, and knowing when it’s a good healthy challenge or if it’s backfiring and making you feel frustrated and disillusioned.

When it comes to learning English, challenging yourself can be good to a certain extent.

You want to be sure to challenge yourself enough, but find that healthy balance.

You don’t want to take on too many things at once, otherwise you will get frustrated and want to give up.

Take on just enough to make it a challenge, and then know when you have found that perfect balance.

Roleplay To Help

In this roleplay, Lindsay and Michelle are students talking about their upcoming semester of college and the classes they have chosen.

Lindsay: “So what’s your schedule looking like?”

Michelle: “Not too bad, not too bad. I needed a break after last semester’s challenging schedule.”

Lindsay: “I’m in the mood for more of a challenge this time around. Last semester I took way too many easy classes.”

Michelle: “Trust me, my classes still will challenge me. Especially the 8am ones!”

Lindsay: “Ha! I challenge you to actually get to class on time, Michelle.”

Michelle: “I challenge you to get better grades than me this semester!”

Lindsay: “It’s on!”


This word is dynamic, and so it can be used in multiple ways.

We went over the basics today so that you know how to use it effectively.

How do you challenge yourself?

Think of different ways to challenge yourself, and how to use this word in conversation.

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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