Differences between editions of A Dictionary of Japanese Basic Grammar

Edit I’m too much of a language nerd to not go ahead and get all three books, finally. Got it from Amazon.ca (via a third-party seller but fulfilled by Amazon) for $150 CDN, with free shipping and tax included. All books are new copies and they’re apparently in amazon’s Canadian warehouse since the delivery ETA is within 2 days. I’m keeping this topic open for anyone else who may have that question. End of edit

I intend on getting myself a copy of A Dictionary of Japanese Basic Grammar, but chances are the edition I may get is an older version. However, before I spend any money on a copy of the book, is there any major difference between editions, any reason to stick strictly to the latest revision, or are they simply reprints?

Also, I know that the Tofugo article on the subject indicated that most people will be content with only the Basic book, but should I also get the Intermediary and Advanced grammars as well? My goal is to improve my Japanese knowledge as a self-learner, not necessarily to pass any JLPT test (especially since said tests would require me to travel to Toronto or Boston).


I got the Intermediate and Advanced books. All three have frequently been useful for the reading clubs here.

Honestly could not comment on the differences between editions.


Technically speaking you don’t need any of the books. (Says the guy who has all three of them lol) But I guess that’s not the point.

I’d definitely recommend the basic one, the entries are great. Good example sentences, great notes, goes through exceptions, compares similar points and tells the differences.

Like consider this,

  1. 私の家から学校までは車で五分しかかからない。
  2. 私の家から学校までは車で五分だけかかる。

Sentence 1) is correct whereas 2) is incorrect. Apparently, だけ cannot be used with かかる.

Now, this is a very specific case and probably not very useful. But you’ll learn stuff like this from time to time too.

Regarding the intermediate and advanced books, if you really want them only get the intermediate, entries in the advanced are stuff you’ll rarely encounter irl, since your goal is to not necessarily pass any JLPT (advanced one is pretty much useless). From the intermediate one some of the entries will be commonly seen, so you’re better of just using the internet if money is an issue. Otherwise, get all three of 'em I guess.


For what it’s worth, as a novice just coming up on 1 year of learning the language, I get a lot of mileage out of both the Basic and Intermediate editions. The Advanced one sees less use for me but I’m quite happy to have it.

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I read somewhere that you can find the 3 of them for about $50 somewhere hidden in the Internet. Is that true?? I can only find them for around $40 each.

All versions are the same. The only difference between the original 1986 version and the 1989 version (the current edition in print) is going from a cloth-bound to a paperback version. The current year copies are just a current printing. The one that I picked up a few months back says “77th printing May 2018”. Essentially the only real difference I can see is that they have changed the color of the covers over the years, but otherwise it’s the same copyright date.


Maybe used. Amazon Japan right now sells the set of 3 brand new for ¥11,130.

That’s the thing. Here in Canada, our exchange rate is bad enough that what I paid with amazon.ca ($150 CDN shipped) is pretty much that Amazon Japan price plus shipping.

Yeah. Even worse is a Kinokuniya in town is selling them for something $50 a pop. I got lucky and snagged them “used”, but are basically brand new, for just a bit under a $100 on Amazon. But all the used copies on Amazon US marketplace right now are no cheaper than just importing.

I bought mine at my university bookshop, so I got a “special” student price of $48 for the first book, $58 for the second and $64 for the third (that’s Australian dollars - in USD it’s about $35, $42 and $47, though I imagine the exchange rate was a bit different when I bought them).

That’s close to the individual price of the books in Canada (outside of that 3-book set price), and our dollar is on par with the Australian dollar…

It’s always a mystery for me why people recommend getting only the Basic book, or getting only the Basic and Intermediate book, because it completely contradicts my personal experience. When I have to look up an unfamiliar or forgotten grammar (because I encountered it in a book, and so far I’ve only tried to read simple children’s books), it has about equal chance of being in the Basic, Intermediate or Advanced volume, or not in any volume at all. I always start with the Advanced book, because it has a common index, and then move to another volume if the index says the grammar point is described in another volume.

Advanced book is not useless, I found dozens of grammar even from the easy children’s book in the Advanced volume. E.g. the last grammar I looked up was from the currently read (right here in the Beginner’s book club) chapter 2 of 時のかける少女. The sentence was “そんなことがあるもんか”. I wouldn’t be able to understand that it means “It’s definitely not that!” without the Advanced volume (or I would have to search for this grammar elsewhere).

My recommendation: get all three volumes or get none at all (and instead get A Handbook of Japanese Grammar Patterns which has everything in one volume)


Thanks for the recommendation!

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Late to the conversation but:

Get all three. Japanese isn’t going to evolve anytime soon, and these are books that you will likely have and be able to use and reference for the rest of your (Japanese-studying) life. The Appendices in the basic and intermediate are fantastic, and the combined index in the Advanced one is very hand for figuring out which book a grammar point is in.

and just a side note: I am also not interested in taking the JLPT, which is why I thought these were great, since they don’t pander to any test.


That I did, finally! :slight_smile: And since it was fulfilled by Amazon.ca, my (brand-new) copies were shipped for free and quickly as they were already in Canada. Here’s the pic we took (along with some other recent arrivals at home).


Well, I mean, this is not surprising. The divisions of grammar are based on what learners are taught, not what natives knows. If something isn’t classical or formal grammar, then little kids probably know it even if it is advanced for learners. Then again, since a lot of fairy tales use classical motifs, they get exposure to those too.

I guess the only grammar I would put money on little kids not knowing is stuff that will only appear in advanced keigo or business Japanese.


Is this the book?

Thank you for the recommend; this one’s definitely going on my shopping list.

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