Best Casual Speech Textbook?

Hey all, this coming summer, my brother and I are planning to study grammar together. This is the first time either of us have studied it seriously (although I did do some self-study last summer, so I know basic formal verb forms and that sort of thing). What I’d really like to do is learn the casual verb forms and conjugations first, since I know that the formal forms are built off the casual forms, but since textbooks are geared toward formal writing and speech, I haven’t found one that approaches learning grammar this way.

I get why they do it – obviously if you’re trying to speed-learn some phrases for your Japan trip you don’t wanna be throwing casual speech at everyone you come across – but my brother and I are both pretty logic-centered individuals and I believe we both see language learning as something of a puzzle. To me, it makes more sense to start at the root and continue to branch out, rather than start with a branch, retrace to the root, and branch out again.

My question is, are there any textbooks out there that start with casual speech and build in this way? If not, are there any good ones that explain the root casual forms well while teaching the formal forms? We’re both pretty familiar with basics, so it’d be nice not to have to go through 「こんにちは、ジョン・スミスはです」a thousand more times. :sweat_smile:

Thanks for the suggestions!!!

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I met someone at a language exchange a few weeks ago who studied in Japan for 6 weeks and they used the book つなぐ日本語 (Japanese to Connect) and from what they were talking about it seems like this is the type of book you are looking for, but since they were in Japan and going to school everyday, I do not know about using these books for self study for beginners.

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Tae Kim’s grammar guide starts of with casual speech.


Seconded. Tae Kim’s guide does a great job of introducing the kind of Japanese that people actually speak. He takes the simplest types of Japanese sentences you’ll find and he builds from there. For instance–looking at my physical copy here–the first mention of です and ます isn’t until 75 pages in.


CureDolly has a great youtube channel that taught me more than any other resource I came across. I credit that channel the fact that I’m reading every day now, because I learned a lot in quite short a time. By my standards, at least - the standards of being bad at learning pure grammar. So bad.

Her primary examples in explanations tend to be in casual form, rather than formal.

The youtube channel is of course free, though it comes with my standard disclaimer:

Yes, the avatar is a rather uncanny valley. Yes, the voice filter is awful. She adds full subs (not the auto-generated stuff), so you can turn the audio low or off. I can’t praise the delivery very much, but I stand by the content of what is taught.

Maybe consider going through the Japanese From Scratch playlist. The videos are quite short form, so if it covers things you already know, you only “waste” about ten minutes. I found it useful to rewatch the very first videos - it’s different to hear a topic discussed when you already know it vs when you hear it for the very first time.

If you want to use a book, she also published a grammar book that’s about 5 dollars on Amazon. I think it’s only available in e-book form, and I’ve not read it myself, so I can’t attest to what and how much it covers, and whether casual is also the norm for the examples used.

I hope you two will find a good resource that you can get lots of use out of! :muscle:


Is this a robots supporting robots kind of thing?




I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords.


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