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I had a test yesterday and 3 questions of the grammar part confused me a bit.

the first two are:

We were in such a bad financial situation that we had difficulties ............. our bills each month. a) that pay / b) for paying / c) paying / d) to pay

and similarly :

His plays are so elaborate and difficult to understand that even the critics find difficulty......them. a) explain / b) explaining / c) to explain / d) with explain

well I chose the gerund form of the verb for both questions ("paying" and "explaining") and my question here is whether there is any difference between them or not?! why is one of them "difficulties"(plural) and the other one "difficulty"(singular) ?!

the other question is:

Britain's trade position has been ............ weakened by inflation.

among the answer choices there were "very" and "very much" ... and I chose very much but still don't know what's the difference in here. and if there really is.. what is it?!

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In the first example, "we had difficulties" is like saying "we had problems" - the implication being that a number of obstacles arose preventing us from paying the bills.

In the second example, the critics are finding it difficult, so "they find difficulty explaining" works. You could rephrase it to say "they found difficulties", but in saying "difficulties" rather than "difficulty", you're more referring to specific problems rather than a general sense of difficulty.

For your final questions, it's because "weakened" is a past participle being used as an adjective. There's a very good answer here so I won't go into detail.

Congratulations - all your answers were correct!

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  1. Difficulty and difficulties are different. How? While difficulty represents the same problem faced, difficulties is used when different problems are faced by different persons. Hence, in 1st, it is used in plural form to show varying problems while in 2nd, the problem or difficulty is same for everyone.

  2. both very and much can be used as an adjective or an adverb at times, adjective when used to enhance the quality of a noun or a pronoun whereas, as an adverb when used to qualify a verb, adjective or any other adverb. When both used together mounts to an adverbial phrase often used before adjectives, verbs or adverbs to emphasize them. Here weakened being an adj. could be preceded by any of the two but since we are more versed with spoken English, very much sounds more correct than very alone.

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