I want to say "it was a rough year", but I'm not sure how to put it.

I thought of "難しい年頃" which I understand means "difficult age", normally used to describe the rebel age of kids.

How do people normally put it? 難しい年? Can we use 大変な年?


3 Answers 3


The main point for saying "rough [time]" is that you should express [time] as a proper time period.

(one) day 一日【いちにち】
(one) month [一ヶ月]{いっかげつ}
(one) year 一年【いちねん】

(Cf., 良い一日を "Have a nice day".)

大変な一日だった/でした is I think common for "I had a rough day". 大変な一年 works similarly.

難しい一年 works as well, although it's more like "difficult year" than "rough year". That is, 難しい一年 sounds a bit more collected, as though you were in control (at least emotionally), in spite of hardships.


Earthliŋ has already provided a great answer, so instead of repeating what they've got, I figure I'll just fill out the information as it relates to the phrases presented in the question -- ways of saying it without 一【いち】, basically, and how natural they may or may not be.

I did a few Google searches for various phrases (putting "quotes" around the terms to get exact results) and this is what I came up with. Google results aren't everything, naturally, but I believe that they provide a great general reference point.

  • 大変【たいへん】な年【とし】
    • 6,000,000+ results. Super common. Looks safe to use while sounding natural.
    • 「[2011年]{にせんじゅういちねん}は、私【わたし】たち福島県【ふくしまけん】 民【みん】にとって大変な年となりました。」 ("2011 was a rough year for those of us in Fukushima.")
    • 「大変な年になりそうですか!」 ("Looks like it'll be a bad year [for him], doesn't it?")
  • 辛【つら】い年
    • ~30,000 results. Much, much less common. Not unheard of, though. Maybe use with caution? I'd find a few more example sentences and familiarize myself with it before trying to use it, I think.
    • 「去年【きょねん】は辛い年だった」 ("Last year was difficult.")
    • 「競合【きょうごう】のタブレット端末【たんまつ】にとっては辛い年になる」 ("It's gonna be a challenging year for competing tablet computers [due to the fact that the iPad is doing so well].")
    • EDIT per @naruto: With no context, this can imply a sudden, unfortunate event. Death, loss of job, etc. Again, I'd find more examples of the word being used and familiarize myself with it and its contexts further before adding it to my active vocabulary.
  • 難【むずか】しい年
    • ~40,000 results. Technically more than for the above, but I put it lower because it appears that most of the results actually aren't relevant. It seems that 「難しい年」 is not usually used for this purpose.

To emphasize Earthliŋ's point, 「大変な一年」 gets 12.8 million results in Google, more than twice the results that 「大変な年」 gets. Applies also to 「難しい一年」. But yeah, your safest bet would be with 大変, I would say.

  • 2
    Among these, "辛い" has to be used with care, because it means sad or pitiful, as well as tough or rough. Without any context, 「昨年は辛い1年でした」 is most likely associated with someone's sudden death, unfortunate business failure, etc., regardless of the existence of effort or struggle.
    – naruto
    Jul 16, 2014 at 15:05
  • Thanks, @naruto!! I've added an extra note to my post to draw attention to that. Great point; I appreciate the clarification. :) Jul 16, 2014 at 15:12
  • 3
    Well, 「競合のタブレット端末にとっては辛い年」 is immediately understood as challenging, and 「今日は仕事がいっぱいで、辛かった!」as tough, so this is a very context-sensitive matter.
    – naruto
    Jul 16, 2014 at 15:16

In addition to the two existing answers, you could also say しんどい一年 or きつい一年.

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