Is there any difference in meaning between “1” and “2”?

  1. It is difficult to learn a second language.
  2. It is difficult learning a second language.

Not the meaning, only the nuance and emphasis.

Hi Bev,

By the way, would sentence#2 sound better if we change is thus?

Learning a second language is difficult


It depends on what you are trying to say. I don’t think it sounds any better necessarily.

With those verbs that can take both the infinitive and the gerund, infinitives are used when we are talking generally about situations and events.
[color=indigo]Teachers report that it is usually harder for adults to learn a second language than children.

The sentence is referring to the general experience teachers have had when they try to teach adults a second language, compared to teaching children.

Gerunds usually sound more like normal, spoken English, and so gerunds are used when we are speaking about a specific instance.
[color=indigo]It is difficult learning a second language.
It sounds like someone’s personal experience who is learning a second language, and might well be said by any non-native speaker in this forum!