Beggining grammar on 2022 - Are these books good options?

Hi, I’m finally starting to get my rhythm on wanikani back in track , hopefully for good this time (I should have been on level 13 by now, but I had to reset back to level one for reasons).

Anyway, I want a few more levels before getting into grammar (around level 15-20), but since some of these books are a little pricy, I figured I would slowly buy them one at a time so by the time I reach my goal I would have them without breaking the bank.

I’m thinking of getting Genki, Kodansha’s Furigana Japanese Dictionary and the A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar.

What you all think, any tips? Drop one of them or replace with something else? Get other ones entirely?


I’ll mention it just in case you haven’t heard of it, but since you mentioned how those book can be pricy, have you heard of tae kim’s grammar guide? Might be worth taking a look at. It’s free and can be a good place to start with grammar. If you’ve already taken a look at it, then never mind aha. As for the other books I don’t think I can help you there since I haven’t tried them. Good luck with grammar!


Just my personal preferences: I love Genki, never used the Kodansha’s furigana dictionary (but love and use all the time the Mac OS builtin dictionary and/or I prefer the Handbook 日本語文型辞典 英語版 ―A Handbook of Japanese Grammar Patterns for Teachers and Learners: Group Jammassy: 9784874246788: Books over the Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar (I have both).

Any grammar dictionary is better that Tae Kim for checking a grammar point. Most text books are also better than Tae Kim since Tae Kim has almost no exercises. But Tae Kim is really very good at giving you the the impression you are learning grammar (since you can read it fast) even if he lacks teaching/academic credentials.


On that note, the new Tobira for beginners just came out, so that might be worth checking out.


I’d recommend getting a beginner grammar textbook first. Used Genki myself, just like many others. You might want to supplement it with the grammar handbook/dictionary after being a bit more familiar with grammar. When you’re diving into reading, then that furigana dictionary might come in handy.

Either way, investing in these materials will pay off later.


Depending on your age, I might recommend Japanese from Zero or Japanese for Busy People as a soft introduction to grammar. I think those are user-friendly for beginners and are organized in a way that is easy for self-study learners.

I recommend starting grammar ASAP just to get some basics down. I’d recommend watching Cure Dolly or George Trombley (the Japanese from Zero guy) videos to aid you.


I have this one and almost never used it. It’s a pretty pricey book that can teach you the stuff you need but it’s not necessary at all. A book like Genki is enough really IMO. I have Genki, but wouldn’t be too strict about learning exactly everything in it. It has pretty long vocabulary lists that are often not relevant yet to the type of content I consume. You also don’t learn most of the vocab in context, which essentially makes them useless. My personal strategy is to try to get a somewhat grasp of the grammar points but to not strive for perfection as you will learn to perfect them soon enough with enough immersion. That’s also why I don’t think it’s necessary to buy the exercise book (you can find the exercises (including listening exercises) in it for free anyway on their website…). It also teaches you kanji but that you obviously get from WK so it’s not needed. There are good texts as well with reading comprehension questions as well as writing prompts, so you get pretty much everything from Genki, though it’s certainly not perfect.

+1 to this. There is no requirement or need to wait to level 15-20 to start grammar. I know WaniKani gives similar suggestions, but that’s more of a soft suggestion than a hard requirement.

I can recommend:

  • Genki as a non-free option
  • Tae Kim’s guide as a free option

But in general it might also be worth investing in BunPro if you’re fairly busy.

Also recommend this. I also owned both and once I got Handbook I haven’t gone back to DoJG. It’s very thorough and I don’t think I’ve come across a grammar point yet that I couldn’t find there.

I wasn’t a textbook type of person so I used LingoDeer to get the grammar basics down quickly - if you’re looking for something other than textbooks. It teaches up to about N4 level with their 2 Japanese courses. After that I just immersed, started reading - that’s where you’ll really get to know the grammar structure.

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While you’re working on getting to your goal, you could watch Cure Dolly’s (free) youtube series:

For me, it was like Japanese grammar boot camp. Her teaching theory doesn’t help you understand regular textbooks, so it kind of stands alone, but it got me to a place of feeling like I had a basic understanding of what was going on, and now I’m getting into more nitty gritty by starting the Dictionary of Japanese Grammar books. That’s why I thought it might be a nice “in the meantime” thing for you. For what it’s worth. :slight_smile:

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My recommendation isn’t to get the book that someone tells you to get, but to be willing to try multiple different resources until you find the ones that work for you.


I really refused to buy textbooks/program courses besides wanikani cuz everything is just so dang expensive, and I decided to just gut things the free way. Which, albeit might not be the best way, but it feels good saving money. WK Lifetime is the only thing I splurged for.

To learn grammar (for free!) I used all of the below:
NHK News Easy to start for quick, short reading material that I tore apart word by word using all the other free resources
Random YT videos, like Nihongonomori, Cure Dolly, etc
Tae Kim
Rikai-kun extension, for dictionary browser stuff
Random websites that explained how to conjugate verbs and verb forms, in which I would just write the conjugated forms over and over to test myself using random verbs in their plain/root form
Anki is too much of a mess for me to figure out so I used Brainscape for flashcards. No fancy SRS, I just grinded the vocab every day when I was walking
And I highly, HIGHLY recommend looking at your local library’s website and going there in-person if possible. Most libraries have free, complete Japanese (and other) language learning textbooks, workbooks, guides, etc. Mine even has a subscription that anyone with a library card can use for free for Rocket Languages.

I’ve gotten my hands on Genki I and II and after all the effort I put into grinding my own studies, I don’t think they’re necessary. They were boring, lacking info, and way too focused around a “high school student studying abroad in a Japanese school” life lessons.

But it’s completely your choice what material you want to work with, I just don’t think spending upwards of 50+ on textbooks is worth it when there’s heaps of free content that achieve the same thing for free.

For me I’ve been using genki for vocab and as a general route to follow, and using tae kim’s guide to give some extra context since genki can be a bit over simplified! Remember what works best for one person might not for another though.