At what point should I start learning grammar?

Currently I’m just halfway through level 3 but I notice that at the pace I am going there is always at least 1 day per week when I have next to no reviews here because I got to the 4/5 mark for everything that I didnt mess up and that has a long wait time for the last review so was wondering if I can already start slotting in grammar for those days. Or is it better to wait a few months until I have already built up some core vocab first?

Also is Bunpro basically like WaniKani only for grammar in terms of everything already being laid out for me in proper learning order? I don’t mind paying their 5$ monthly sub if this means I don’t have to mess around with textbooks or setting up my own lesson plans at all and can just use these 2 sites to learn most of what I need.

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Short answer: Now, if you have the time

Longer answer:
In terms of grammar study, knowing the vocabulary beforehand helps a ton. For example if you get to level 10, you should most likely know most words, and especially most kanji that the textbooks will throw at you. This lets you focus on the actual grammar part of the equation instead of memorising wordlists, which aren’t very efficient.

And now that I mentioned why it’s great if you wait, let’s talk about why everyone recommends starting as early as possible. There are several reasons. First, and probably the most important, language learning won’t be fun forever. If you have no tangible results, you will most likely get bored and fall out of the hamster wheel. Just learning words and kanji might feel nice at first, but actually using the language is where the fun part lies. And you really can’t do that without learning grammar. 10 levels is about 2.5 months at the fastest possible speed. You can without any issues get enough grammar knowledge in 2.5 months to start reading some graded readers. Reading and just consuming content is also how you get the words to stick way better, so it has actual benefits too.

So tl;dr, start when you feel like it, but there’s some merit to starting as early as you can.


In my experience, I didn’t find Bunpro sufficient on its own but I really liked using Bunpro in addition to another grammar learning source such as a grammar textbook. If you don’t want to spend money, I’m pretty sure a free PDF of Tae Kim’s Grammar Guide is floating around online somewhere! And you can even reorder the learning path in Bunpro to align with the textbook of your choice.


Go for it. You can start grammar basically anytime, but the sooner you start the easier it is to do both concurrently. As the review load does increase, then it might get harder unless you make some concessions.

I’ve seen people say that you need some vocabulary before you start grammar, but every grammar guide I’ve seen gives you the vocabulary. The only prerequisite for grammar, in my opinion, is knowing hiragana and katakana.

I started with Tae Kim’s guide very early on.


Oh, also, bunpro. It’s an SRS, the same way as wanikani. It actually has many builtin paths for learning grammar, but it’s way less handholdy than wanikani, for example, if you so desire, you can literally just learn every single grammar point in a day and then suffer for the next few years trying to put them in place. They have a free month I believe, so do try it out. I’m personally not the biggest fan, but only because the way I learn the best is sucking up as many sources for my information as possible and forming an idea in my head for the grammar patterns. Which of course doesn’t work if you have a single source of explanation. But you can also just manually select certain grammar patterns that you’ve met and looked up elsewhere, and it will try to make sure you remember those long term.

Check out, covers both as a single source, grammar SRS soon, here is their roadmap. Yes, they have a native ‘undo button’.

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If you can’t start yesterday, start today.

Grammar trumps vocab absolutely. If you know grammar it’s much easier to read stuff you don’t know because you know how to break down a sentence and know what you need to look up in a dictionary. It’s significantly harder to look up grammar points that you don’t know.

I’m not gonna suggest what method to learn grammar because that seems to miss the point of the discussion (people are arguing whether bunpro is right or wrong). I’d go out and investigate what’s out there to study grammar and what suits you but you should definitely start grammar studies as soon as.

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As well as only costing $5 dollars the great thing about bunpro is that you get spoken sentences as well as written sentences for each grammar example so you get listening practice. Although bunpro does have SRS you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to and the way bunpro works is that simple grammar is later used to make more complex sentences so earlier grammar is reinforced as you progress.

I liked using bunpro but stopped when i started using FluentU which has everything you need in my opinion. Though at 30 pounds/dollars a month its probably not for people who don’t have that money to spend on their hobbies

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But definitely i think it’s unwise not to be doing other Japanese studies as well as Wanikani

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While lots of people recommend BunPro, I’ll offer some other perspective. I think as you get deeper in WaniKani, it might get tough to start managing two SRS’s without slowing down in both, or focusing heavily on one and leaving the other to progress slowly.

Personally, I have learned 90% of my grammar through natural means. A big one in that was anime, it also let me pick up a bunch of random vocabulary too. This was done without any effort, and I even had subtitles on, all before I even learned any Japanese. Though, I do recommend you actually pay attention to the Japanese, since mine was a case of watching anime for years.
So if you actually try and learn from it, you could pick up a lot more and a lot quicker.

I think it’s worth trying out a couple of things and see what works best, and fits how you like to learn.

Bunpro is very improper learning order. I’m a lifetimer, cleared the entire thing a few months back, and was extremely confused by the ordering of their grammar points. For the most part it’s alright though. But it’s not comprehensive, something like imabi or 日本語文型辞典 will cover much more. So yeah if you can pay bunpro is fine, def use it in tandem with other resources though.

First I’d heard of FluentU. Thanks for the mention!

To me, learning any language (including things like music and serious games like chess or go) requires two things:

  1. Building vocabulary (including meta vocabulary like set phrases)

    Vocabulary is mostly about memorization and repetition. SRS’s are great for this.

    Vocabulary is easiest to acquire once you can read the language, though (e.g. kanji for Japanese and traditional notation for music scores). Wanikani was by far the best teaching site I found for learning to read kanji.[1] WK does teach quite a bit of vocabulary, but only enough to learn the various readings and underlying “meanings” of the kanji they contain. Vocabulary simply isn’t WK’s primary focus.

    There are different levels of proficiency with vocabulary, too. It’s one thing to be able to recognize a written word eventually. It’s a WHOLE 'NOTHER THING to be able to recognize spoken vocabulary from native speakers at native speeds – much less produce vocabulary at conversational speeds.

    After just a brief examination, FluentU seems outstanding for learning more vocabulary once you can read a bit.

  2. Learning the grammar (the rules about how to combine vocabulary to express things).

    Unlike words and set phrases, grammar doesn’t seem to me like it’s suitable for rote memorization with an SRS. Bunpro never really clicked for me. There are too many different ways to combine vocabulary to express similar concepts. Unlike memorizing vocabulary with quick, “I know it or I don’t” quizzes, learning and understanding grammar also requires deeper, slower, more methodical thought.

    I think the very basics can probably be most efficiently learned with textbooks and the like, but “immersion” quickly becomes more effective. It’s essentially learning by example. FluentU seems like an excellent choice for learning grammar via “immersion” (watching video and listening to audio with native transcriptions).

All in all, I like the combination of WK + FluentU.

Thoughts on FluentU specfically

I just signed up for the free two week trial and played with it for a few minutes. I’m hardly an expert!

So far I like what I see a lot, though. As long as they continue to add content, I will very likely stick with it.

Getting started wasn’t hard, but I hate self-grading. I had no idea what they considered “advanced” but since I’ve been speaking the language (poorly) for a long while and can finally read a bit, I tried the “advanced” level (which was easier than I expected).

Things I liked:

  • The first video I watched was surprisingly interesting! [About an instant beef curry thing involving an exothermic pack of some sort with a catalyst that gets it hot enough to produce steam in a plastic bag – something that would probably generate about 10 lawsuits per minute in the US, sadly).

  • The furigana is below the Japanese text, and the English below that, making both easy to ignore.

  • The videos are “chunked” nicely (~30s per segment?) with just a few sentences of easily digestible content in each “chunk”.

  • The UI and keyboard navigation seem reasonably well thought out.

  • The different quiz types seem to be pretty well thought out and not mechanically generated. The only type I’m a little unsure about involve clicking on and reordering words to construct the requested sentence. It’s easy because you have to use all the words, but weird because it uses all the words actually spoken in the video, not just those required to communicate the thought (all the ですね and other umms and errs included).

  • It wants you to use an IME and enter actual Japanese text as responses to many questions.

  • The “advanced” content was surprisingly easy for me to follow. There were only two words I didn’t know, but just hovering over the panel with the mouse sufficed to pause the video and see the definition for the word in context. Very low-friction. Nice!

The only thing I noticed that seemed a little off is that they translated a Kansai や at the end of a sentence as な, but that may have been intentional.

I’ve not explored the audio or flashcard content much yet (doesn’t look like they have any advanced audio-only content yet, and the flashcard content is just N1 vocabulary lists).

Overall, this looks like one of the best things I’ve seen for anyone wanting to converse in Japanese (listening practice as well as production). It seems like a GREAT adjunct to Wanikani.

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Wanikani + FluentU combination to anyone (WK for learning to to read kanji, FluentU for building vocabulary and learning a bit of real-world grammar). That’s at least an 80% solution to learning the language for anyone.

  1. Which is an incredibly helpful early step in itself, of course, but insufficient to fully comprehend written material or to be able to converse. ↩︎

I would say start immediately. If you don’t know any grammar stop immediately wanikani and resume it when you do. I think there is very little point in doing wanikani unless you have some elementary grammar knowledge, and even then I would recommend to only dedicate very little time to it. Grammar and vocabulary are immensely more important at the beginning.

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Yup. Both are very important at every stage. That’s it, really. :smile:

WK will teach you some elementary vocabulary, though, and the workload is very light in the very beginning. I’d suggest doing elementary grammar/sentences in parallel with learning Kanji on WK when you’re first getting started.

When things start getting harder on WK (usually about six months in when enlightened items start to appear, sometimes sooner) it’s reasonable to focus on it exclusively, but learning to read kanji is IMMENSELY valuable to further studies in the language (building both grammar and vocabulary).

From what most people say it’s good to start grammar as soon as possible.

I would recommend concentrating on grammar, vocabulary, listening and speaking before starting to memorise kanji. Kanji is really only one part of learning Japanese, and Wanikani will work best if you have a solid foundation in the language before you start it.


Memory doesn’t last forever. There is not really a ‘burnt’ concept in real life. If you start with wanikani you’ll learn a few hundred kanjis very quickly (in fact you will ‘burn’ some after only a few months). The ones you burn will often be equivalent to N4 or above. If in the same time you haven’t reached an equivalent level of grammar (let’s say genki 1 + 2 more or less) you won’t be able to use these kanjis as your grammar and vocabulary knowledge is insufficient to read at that level, and the kanjis you learnt will be forgotten, as wanikani for some reasons ‘burns’ them.

Everything is important and will in time be needed. But time is limited and you have to establish priorities. At first there is no point in trying to memorise kanjis you can’t use, especially considering wanikani won’t make you review them after one year, when it’s more likely you’ll be able to use them.


Don’t be like me : start early. I recommend reading this light introduction to Japanese grammar as soon as you can .


In my own experience learning the kanji of a word means i am better able to memrise that word’s sound than

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