Forgetting Conjugations

No, not at all. I wouldn’t even bother using genki personally, but if thats your decision just try to get a general feel for what kinda conjugations there are and what conjugated verbs look like. Don’t worry about perfectly being able to reproduce and identify them and leave the solidification to the input.


These videos helped me so much, and made perfect sense. But if you’re starting from formal speech, which is sort of a conjugation of its own, it might be confusing.

Cure Dolly is so much easier for me to understand than Genki. I hope this helps.


It tends to sort itself out when you start reading Japanese content. The grammar points described at the start of genki 1 appear a lot, so you’ll grow accustomed to them quite fast. I wouldn’t worry about it too much and if you ever have trouble recognizing them, then go back and read through the chapter the point is explained in again :grin:


Huh. That actually sounds like it makes a lot of sense. When I read something in the wild, it’s not going to quiz me on what the past informal negative form of a word is, it will just use the form. Maybe reading that, plus sentence context, will help over time…

I think I’ll just push through the last couple chapters I have left, then maybe read again through my weaker points but continue on after that. Thank you for the advice!

P.S - What did you use for learning grammar, if you don’t mind? I know it’s not the only thing out there, but I’ve kind of seen Genki be the standard beginner tool.


Well, its worth noting that I used genki for a bit and promptly stopped, hence my comment earlier.

Then I went on and used tae kims guide to get a general feel for things. I would say that I skimmed the guide more than studied it, though. Like I got a general idea for what existed, and then promptly went to read a visual novel and acquired the information through lookups with a text hooker and parser. Basically, everytime I would hover over a verb, it would tell me the form its conjugated into and the definition of the word. For all other grammar, it would either show up in the dictionary when I hovered over the related word with my text hooker (e.g. とする says that it means to try to do something when following a verb in volitional form) or I would just google it and read the first thing that popped up. Usually that was a maggie sensei post and I would just read her example sentences and get a feel for the grammar and see how it fit into the sentence I saw it in.

This was 4 years ago so cure dolly really wasnt a thing since her channel literally was just being created at that time. Its worth noting that her content does seem to be a popular alternative to tae kims though, and I just personally never used it.

Genki is definitely the standard, but what I think you’ll quickly begin to realize with japanese (and language study in general, probably), is that standard and best don’t always line up. Theres a lot of different people learning language for a lot of different reasons. The standard practices usually are the most comfortable and structured (think classroom style stuff, which I think genki is actually used in). For a motivated self learner, however, thats definitely not the best approach. For someone who has to learn for work or a major, maybe it is. If you like genki, by all means don’t let anyone stop you though. Its a small blip in the long run anyways.


My learning style is to go through a book pretty quickly until I hit a point where I don’t understand anything at all. Then I start over and everything looks much clearer than when I read it the first time.

I rarely study something repeatedly until it sticks. I rather look stuff up repeatedly when I need it. WK being the big exception here since kanji are too unfamiliar to stick after a casual encounter (although that’s slowly starting to change). .

Maybe that’ll work for you too.


Im finding reading is helping with vocab as well. I am much more likely to remember a word after reading it and looking it up a few times than drilling it over and over with a vocab flash card deck. It stands to reason grammar is the same- and I have picked up some grammar reading along with the Absolute Beginner Bookclub. Otherwise my approach has been to watch a Cure Dolly video then plug whatever new grammar I learned into Bunpro.

Ive tried to start Genki several times and it didnt stick. But different things work for different people.


I used to think learning a language was the process of forgetting stuff a hundred times until you stopped forgetting them and they became an integral part of your brain. I was wrong.
I have learned that learning a language is the proces of forgetting things a thousand times until they stick.

Forgetting stuff is good. It gets you closer to that final time of forgetting/re-learning the thing you are forgetting.


I kind of “listen to my mind” when it comes to remembering or reviewing any type of content. I’ve used Genki 1 and 2. At first, I was using it more but towards the end, I stopped using it as much. When I’m immersing if something makes me go “I should review that” then I’ll write down what it is or which grammar point it is and continue immersing. The same goes when I’m at work or in public since I live in Japan. Then later when I’m doing all of my reviews, I will review that point and usually write a couple of sentences off the top of my head. Then move on.

The moment you accept that forgetting is part of the language learning process and embrace it, the less stressed you get when it happens. I remember one of my language teachers would always say “Just enjoy the ride.” and I try to remember that all the time.


I truly think that is my problem. I’ve always been super hard on myself and while I could definitely be further along, I’ve made a lot of progress. Especially due to the blessing of not having a paid course structure or any sort of deadlines, I should try to stop worrying so much about where I am specifically and just enjoy learning the language.

I’ll keep going with Genki for now since I’m nearly finished, but perhaps I’ll explore other methods afterwards.



My personal experience so far is the best way to drill grammar points that i just learn into my brain is by reading a lot. There is no better way really. I could easily remember almost all N5 N4 grammar points just by reading the explanation once or twice then encountering it in the wild when doing immersion.


If you were to encounter one of the conjugations you mentioned having trouble with, would you recognize it?


Understanding comes before production. I think grammar books like Genki can be useful to familiarize yourself with grammar in advance so that when you see it you’ll know what it means, but the important part is that you get enough exposure to it in a meaningful context.

  1. Get familiar enough that you’d recognize the grammar in the wild
  2. See it many times in the wild, become accustomed to it
  3. Start using it

So as others said, it’s more important that you get enough appropriate input. (Note that you can also skip #1 and just get enough exposure, you’ll catch on eventually. Getting a good handle on the grammar may speed that process somewhat though.)

I think going back would be useful if you believe that you won’t recognize the conjugation/grammar when you encounter it, because if you just skip over it without understanding/trying to understand, then that’s not going to be useful input. But don’t beat yourself up for not being able to produce it. And if the book still feels like a chore, then don’t feel obligated to use it either.


I studied Japanese in university using Genki. We’d spend a year on each book (which, with all semester breaks and holidays means 6 months per book, roughly 1 chapter per week). Even with all the practice we did and the slow pace, we were all struggling with conjugations for as long as we used the textbooks.
Then, on my 3rd year, we stopped using textbooks and started reading texts. We also had longer writing assignments than the first two years. Within a couple weeks of reading and one assignment, everyone realized conjugations became much easier. Much of it had to do with time - as much as it was confusing, at some point it just entered out minds and stayed there. If once we struggled to remember how to conjugate each type of verb in a certain form, suddenly we didn’t even think about it. It also had to do with just sitting down and reading a normal story (meaning not a story written by a textbook to teach you something).
So my advice - keep going, maybe practice a bit. If you have the Genki textbooks maybe try the conjugation tables again. But really, just keep going until you are comfortable to start reading and you’ll see how it all comes together :slight_smile:


Life imitating art?

Done with being off-topic. I have this problem as well sometimes. I think the best way to go about is to practice. That could be by reading a book like others have talked about or producing your own sentences. You’re welcome to share them for feedback over in the Sentence a Day thread or you could try an app like HelloTalk that matches native speakers and learners of the opposite languages. Since the goal is for both parties to improve, I find it’s low stakes social-wise and there are mutual expectations that both parties will make mistakes and can therefore be very forgiving of each other.


Yes, conjugation is easy to learn through immersion and language exposure. It’s a bit like any language in that sense - it’s not so much about logically understanding the system, as it’s about just seeing/hearing the forms so many times that they seem right and natural, imo.

At least, I found that approach suited me, rather than some dry grammar explanation.

In some ways, it’s not as important to understand which conjugation is which as it is recognizing the verbs themselves - for reading comprehension. The context itself can help you in the beginning. And with time, you’ll internalize the grammar rules to let you parse the text properly.


To me, she only makes having nightmares easier.

In other words. You are most likely forgetting the conjugations because you aren’t using them. Don’t just study - actually use Japanese.

I was taught to do that too!. The idea is when you skim through content the first time, your brainmeats are making mental notes of what to pay attention to when you read through it for realsies.

I like to pretend I have a score to settle. Like the word I forgot killed my brother or some other action movie trope.

This time it’s personal…


Have you been doing the exercises in the book? If not, I think that might be where the problem is. If you have, try and find some more exercises that drill the points you’re having trouble with; that’ll be more useful than reading the textbook again.


I have, and I do pretty well at the time. However, when I quizzed myself, I didn’t do too well.
I think I’m getting a better idea of learning overall from the comments in this thread. Thank you, everyone; I’m seriously grateful for this site and the community here.

I’m going to try to be more consistent with my Tadoku graded reader and practicing reading through other methods. I tend to catastrophize things (always have, really…) in regards to learning. As a kid and now if I don’t get it the first time right off the bat I get super discouraged. I know that’s dumb, though, and I’m trying to push back against that feeling. This is literally a foreign language so of course I’m not going to understand things. I will:

  • Re-read the sections on conjugations once more
  • Continue through Genki, if not to just finish it.
  • Finish out the workbook
  • Read much more (As others have mentioned in different threads, finding reading material at this stage can be difficult, but the tadoku graded readers are nice. I’m basically starting from baby steps, which is what you need in the beginning.)

Again, a huge thank you to everyone that replied; you’re all so helpful!!!


Heck, I forget them all the time.

I mean, first off, I never remember which verbs are godan and which are ichidan - or I guess I should say “which verbs that look like ichidan are actually godan”. So I have a good chance of conjugating any verb wrong to begin with. If I can get it right, I can manage the basic present, past, present-negative, past-negative… but it’s certainly not like English where I can conjugate with mindless ease. Chop! Chopped! Chops! Will chop! Has chopped! Chopping! Chopper! Choppy!

But, you know, the fun only starts there, because there are a ton of expressions and compound verbs that all use different rules. Some are te-form. Some are verb-i followed by another word. Some are dictionary form, some cut off the end and replace it with one of the five vowels, but which one? Some use X ni Y instead. And then you have the adjectives and adverbs, or the things that can be turned into adjectives and adverbs, and all of those conjugations…

…oh, were you looking for a solution? :slight_smile:

I imagine reading probably helps to familiarize and reinforce grammar. I don’t feel like it’s worked well for me so far. But I’ve really only read a couple dozen pages of manga, maybe a couple dozen NHK Easy articles, maybe a couple dozen “episodes” on Satori Reader, and some scattered bits and pieces here and there, and that’s really not that much. I doubt you’ll see much benefit from reading until you can consume actual books or at least short stories that are more than a few paragraphs…

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Are you doing all the exercises of the (companion) Genki Workbook?
If you don’t use the material you learn, it is only natural to forget it.