Building a grammar study routine

In October, I got back into studying kanji after a long hiatus. Three months later, I’ve managed to stick with it and it’s become a regular part of my daily routine. Now, I want to do the same with grammar. Unfortunately, I’m hung up on how to start.

A little background: I studied Japanese all through college (I graduated about 1.5 years ago), but I was one of those students who would cram instead of studying over time. As a result, I didn’t retain nearly as much as we covered (my program used Genki and Tobira). I’m also a little “grammar-phobic” as it was what I tended to have the most trouble with.

I’ve been doing research on what resources people usually use for grammar study and it looks like my main options are textbooks, like Genki or Tobira, and online resources like Tae Kim or Imaebi. My question is, if I’ve already had some experience with grammar (I’d say I’m at an advanced-beginner level), which would be a better use of my time: starting over with the textbooks, or going for an online resource?

Another thing I should probably mention is I’m not studying with a test like JLPT in mind. I’ve discovered that studying because I have a test as opposed to because I want to tends to hurt me rather than help me.

tl;dr I already know a little bit of basic grammar. Should I go through textbooks like Genki or online resources like Tae Kim to further develop my skills?


Genki and Tae Kim are both aimed at beginners, and cover about the same points in different approaches. In the end, it comes down to personal preference, so you could try both and see what you think.

Though I’m not fond of it myself, there is also a SRS grammar resource called Bunpro, which many people seem to approve of. You could try it instead if you don’t like textbooks.


I’ve been using BunPro and I really like it but as a fellow grammar-phobe I find it hard to want to go back and study something everyday / consistently. WaniKani made learning addictive and rewarding but I’m not feeling the same thing with BunPro. That being said: I am realizing how much more I can understand sentences on TV, in anime or NHK News Easy when I do study on BunPro. The reviews are really helpful. I think It’s worth checking out


Genki and Tae Kim are both really useful resources, but Tae Kim can be a little hard to swallow. Genki might be easier to follow in the long term.
If you’re up to the challenge, Tae Kim definitely works well when you properly utilize outside resources. When I used the site, I would always make huge sentence decks with the grammar I learned. And start reading real Japanese as soon as possible. When you come across a point you don’t know, just learn it. If you’re already at an advanced beginner level, then you might benefit from Tae Kim’s leniency.
To be honest, I kind of agree with you about bunpro. I strongly believe grammar should be studied in context and not as some flashcard game completely removed from actual Japanese. Then again, it might be useful for cramming or refreshing grammar you already sort of know.


If your program used both Genki and Tobira, I feel like you’d have to have been a really bad student to forget everything in Genki. Same goes for Tae Kim, only Imabi is likely to cover stuff you don’t know.

If anything it’s more likely what is in Tobira that you haven’t retained. So in that case, what I’d suggest is the Shin Kanzen Master N3 books, they’ll be somewhat of a refresher of Tobira, but the grammar books and reading comprehension books are what I’d really suggest.

I think simply all you need to do is take those, and just get into a regular schedule, one chapter every day or two and you’ll be fine.


I actually poked around on Bunpro a month or so ago, but I found it a little hard to figure out how to use it. I’m guessing a good strategy would be:

  1. Be introduced to the grammar point on Bunpro
  2. Seek out more information/examples of the grammar point in Genki/Tae Kim, etc.
  3. Go back to Bunpro for review
  4. Seek out native material for more practice

…or something along these lines?

I definitely agree with @Charlesmccu that grammar should be studied in context, and I try to expose myself to as much native material as I can (manga, twitter, magazines, blogs, youtube, podcasts, etc.). It’s becoming painfully obvious that I need to beef up my grammar skills as a result of looking at stuff like this on a daily basis though haha


I think you’re right that Tobira was the big turning point in grammar retention for me haha. Is Shin Kanzen Master helpful even if I’m not aiming for the JLPT? I’d been curious about JLPT textbooks, but I wasn’t sure if their structure would work since I wouldn’t be studying for the test itself.

Yes, they even mention it in the “Goals of this book” section. It’s not just for taking the test, think of it as more, organized in the structure of the test.

From what I remember of the N3 Grammar book, which I don’t have offhand, it is first grammar in the sentence, and then grammar in larger passages. Then it goes on to have a section of similar grammar points, and when to use them, say such as ようにする and ようになる as well as a few other things. The reading comprehension ones are also geared at a pretty specific target, and I’d highly suggest those as well. I never used the N3 one, but the N2 one is great. The listening one is also good too. I like how the vocab ones are structured but I know most people probably won’t look at those.

Given how much you see you retain you can go as slow or as fast as you need to. Just be aware, once you go up from there, N2 and N1 books are 100% Japanese. But they’re the same idea.

1 Like

Something along those lines, yeah. Bunpro isn’t really set up to be a teaching resource on its own, just SRS. However, each grammar point does contain several links to pages where you can learn more. If you really take the time to go through those and make sure you understand everything, Bunpro can work well for you.

(Disclaimer: I don’t really use Bunpro at the moment, but I probably should. SRS really is helpful for basic review.)


I’m in a similar position where I’m struggling with grammar motivation and I already know a bit of basic grammar from japanese classes yeara ago. Whenever I crack open a textbok or Tae Kim i lose interest In reviewing grammar points I already know and struggle with the new ones.

Right now I’m using Bunpro which is helping a bit. The plan is to speed through all of N5 and use review to try and keep the concepts fresh, then when reading native materials try and recognise when i come across them and really focus. Then hopefully one day I will able to get through my Bunpro reviews because right now I fail about 50% of the time!

1 Like

That actually sounds like what I’d need! I might have to check it out. Thanks!

I’ve taken another look at Bunpro since starting this thread and think I might use it as a jumping off point.

@Pluckabee I feel you on the motivation bit! The SRS is somewhat helpful when it comes to pushing myself to study something though, at least in my experience with WaniKani and as long as I don’t let reviews pile up.
がんばって! We’ll get there eventually!

1 Like

I too am looking to get back into grammar study eventually. Might have to give Bunpro a look-in. What about Textfugu, is that a good option?

1 Like

I doubt Textfugu even covers half of Genki 1.

Have you tried Japanese From Zero, as many people seem to recommend it?

I myself liked Sou Matome grammar series, even more than Shin Kanzen Master.

I’ve heard mixed things about the JFZ books and always assumed they were aimed at a younger audience/full beginners. On the other hand, I’ve heard the videos are really good!

What about Sou Matome did you prefer/thought it did better than Shin Kanzen Master?

There is this guy @mrsaturn who went from Zero to N2 via JFZ. I totally revered him.

Their solid plan to make the audience reach the end of the JLPT level in 6 weeks.

Also, English explanation for even higher level grammars. Yes, my Japanese comprehension level is still quite low. I’ll have to improve on that.

So in studying grammar, an approach that I am taking is like this, I am not in a huge rush to cover a book from cover to cover. I read bits and pieces of it, from GENKI, then I have found tutors on to practice the grammar and vocabulary with. I simply can not retain vocabulary, grammar or practice rules with out actually speaking and practicing what I am learning.

By testing and finding different Instructors, tutors, or community partners (Free), I can get better explanations, or just practice so that way my brain will write and remember how to speak, what I am learning. Using all of the mental resources that speech will require… Is this method free, Teachers and Tutors are not free, but are inexpensive especially for the help they can provide, the community partners works on a I help you and you help me basis, results vary based on partner.

One more note many of the instructors and tutors will be happy to work from Genki, so this way you can limit your teaching based on what you are studying in your text book. It is frustrating to be studying verbs and your partner wants to discuss counting systems…

Good Luck.

Based on your post, it’s obvious that starting a routine (particularly a daily one) is challenging. Due to the nature of how grammar is acquired, it will take time before you feel like you’ve mastered certain points, which is why I also think that Shin Kanzen Master is the best choice. It offers a plethora of grammar points and aggregates the similar ones together to help you differentiate their uses. Since grammar is best learned in context, you’ll need to be involved with native material all the time so those concepts are reinforced (it’s your choice on the type of content you choose to use).

Having used the Sou Matome N3 vocabulary books, poor translation (overly simplified at times) steered me away from using any of the other books. Granted the English translation used in the Shin Kanzen N4 and N3 books isn’t something I would write home about, they avoid translating the example sentences in order to help you think in Japanese. I feel this is critical to bridging that gap between beginner and intermediate levels.


the thought of mixed kana and romaji gives me shivers of the not-good-kind