Finding stringed sentences hard to read

This isnt a kanji question, more a grammar question so I hope thats ok.

I am just wanting to check that I am not alone on this, but I can read certain sentences such as:

“ゆいさん は 背が低い です”


“ゆいさん は きれい です”

quite easily but as soon as I string those together with the adjective / noun te form such as:

“ゆいさん は 背が低くて、きれい です”

My brain has a great struggle putting them together, for example, if I was to change the tense to past tense:

“ゆいさん は 背が低くて、きれい でした”

Im too busy trying to link the adjectives and relate them to the person in my head, that I forget to notice the tense and my brain isnt telling me that I am turning this in to an “and” statement. So I am reading them as single statements still in my head.

Im just wanting some confirmation that this is normal in the process of learning to read (and listen) and that if I keep at it, will start to come more naturally.


Yes, it does get easier after a lot of (grueling) practice. Notably, everything gets a lot easier when you stop translating, and start understanding in Japanese. So, if you’re still translating in your head, try to stop that asap.


Yeah I am still translating everything as I go. I will listen to podcasts, translate a sentence and then realise I have missed 2 minutes of what they are talking about. But then still happy I understood it with translation. I think trying to understand without translating is going to be difficult.


It will come slowly. First you stop translating 犬, 赤い, and 今日, then you read 犬が走っている without translating, and the sentences you understand in Japanese will slowly get longer and longer, until eventually it would be too much of a hassle to even try translating them.


Oh yeah, that does feel very familiar. The main issue for me I think is that Japanese sentences are often built backwards compared to English (or most European languages, really) and obviously when you start you want to translate everything but because the verbs are all the way at the end, you often can’t actually translate anything until you’ve reached the very end of the sentence, and by that point you’ve forgotten where you started.

What helped for me is simply to start from the end in these situations, and work backwards:

でした → was (polite past copula)

きれいでした → was clean/beautiful

Then before that you have a comma, so probably a different clause that you can work on its own:

低くて → 低い + くて, continuative form of low/short

背が低くて → short, of a person, continuative

ゆいさん背が低くて → Yui is/was/will be short, continuative

And then you can piece it all back together.

Then as you get more and more comfortable you get to skip more and more of these steps and you’re able to tackle more complex sentences without needing to break them apart quite as finely.

I have a specific memory of one particular sentence that gave me a huge amount of trouble early on (and that I still can’t comfortably read without re-reading it a few times even now):


From this dialogue in Final Fantasy VIII:

The first time I probably spent like 15 minutes breaking it apart and making sense of the various components…


That first part of your reply is certainly me. That definitely happens when trying to put it all together with long sentences. When its short statements the verb being at the end is fine but as soon as working with linked sentences I’ve forgotten it all as not only am I waiting for a verb I’m also having to concentrate on the adjectives being conjugated to make it “short AND pretty” in this example.

Good to know I’m going through the same as others ahead of me though!


I really think that’s something everybody goes through, unless you happen to already speak a language with somewhat similar grammar (maybe Korean?)

I’ve seen many people in the past saying that it feels a bit like solving a puzzle early on. It’s frustrating too, because you can have a sentence where you understand every single word, recognize every single kanji and still be completely stumped as to what it means exactly.

I’ve experienced this phase with every language I’ve studied but so far Japanese is certainly the one where it’s the most pronounced because the syntax is so incredibly alien compared to what I’m used to.


Oof, that one had me for a hot minute! I’ll have to use this line next time a friend or someone survives a tough battle!


As others said, this is absolutely normal and even when you get better at understanding things, it will still occur at times. You will slowly get to some level where you at least don’t have to think about verb conjugations and the like, then the conjunctions in a sentence will make sense and veeery slowly your brain will adjust to keep the whole sentence in your head until you reach the verb and it will all make sense.
The sooner you just try to “experience” the language and stop overthinking every little thing in a sentence, the faster this process will advance. Especially in the beginning you don’t need to understand everything, try to read things where you understand enough to enjoy it while not getting overly frustrated with some parts not making sense. I had huge trouble with that, too because I like to understand absolutely everything… but staying with a sentence for 10 minutes just slows you down so much, knowing you will have to read quite a few whole novels in text until you get to a comfortable level!

I always found it easier to limit myself to certain timeframes for really intensive study. Once an hour or so is over where I used a dictionary and grammar references for every little detail, I set what I read aside for that day and grabbed something easier, just going on enjoying that content for 1 or 2 more hours, this was a lot easier to me. :slight_smile:
So try to find content that you can follow the gist of and just plow through it. After a few weeks, try to read that content again, you might be surprised how much better you understand it by then! Also stuff you already read in your native language is great for learning without too much stress.


God, Seifer, you’re such a poser lol

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It wouldn’t be a proper jrpg without at least one edgy boi.


I’ll probably get this very wrong, but I’ll try anyway: Staying alive in spite of the battle having ended is certainly the approaching of a fulfillment of a dream? :face_with_head_bandage:

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The comma placement threw me off at first but I think it’s close to what you wrote, regarding the first part:
(What it means/As for) staying alive after the battle is over

definitely, means that you’re getting closer to the realization of your dreams.


100% this. The faster I manage to quiet the part of my brain that wants to “English-ify,” the easier time I have.

I make a concerted effort to learn words by visualizing the thing they’re meant to represent rather than focusing on linking them to an English equivalent. Admittedly, this can be difficult when learning through a tool like WaniKani that forces you to type out the answer, but I try to process review questions in the order of [take in the kanji/vocab] > [what is the concept linked to that item?] > [What English words are linked to that concept?]. I find honing in on the “future vocab that use this kanji” section, usage examples and context sentences during the lessons really helps as well, because those focus on the concepts you can communicate with the kanji or word.

Letting go of the English (or whatever your native language) also helps immensely with output (writing and speaking). You strip the words away and get to the juicy nugget that is the pure concept of what you’re trying to say. THEN you figure out how to communicate that with what you currently have available to you in Japanese. It’s soooo much easier than trying to brute force Japanese to speak English.

But to answer your question, @Dosk3n , YES, it is completely normal. Not just for second-language learning, either! Native learners also struggle with sentence parsing on their path to fluency; they’ve just dealt with it at a younger age than us. :slight_smile:

If you haven’t already, I’d recommend diving into graded readers, like you can find on Tadoku and Yomujp. This way you can work your way up to parsing more and more complex sentences with content designed and organized to help you on that path. Many of the reading selections also have audio recordings, which give you a two-for-one deal on reading AND listening practice.

Yomujp’s library is entirely free, and Tadoku has quite a lot of free content as well (look for the “Free books” checkbox on the left-side column of search options on the page I linked).