Genki really just “elementary”?

The two Genki text books are labelled as “elementary”. However the books seem to cover all the tenses (at least in my electronic dictionary I don’t find others) and in terms of sentence structures, adjectives, adverbs etc they seem to cover most of what I would expect to come across in learning a language. Of course they don’t cover all the vocab or Kanji but then I wouldn’t expect that from textbooks.

Is there really so much more Japanese grammar to learn (beside vocab and Kanji)?

Yes. Genki basically covers a lot of the most important grammar, the very basics you need to build all the rest, but you still need a lot more grammar if you want to understand Japanese.

Putting it in terms of the JLPT test, Genki basically covers N5 and N4 grammar. There’s still all the rest up to N1.


Yes. Oh my, yes, there is.

Genki I and II can give you a good foundation of beginner to lower intermediate (maybe) grammar. But just pick up an advanced textbook or one of the dictionaries of Japanese grammar and you’ll see. In Japanese, one could argue that conjugating verbs is the easiest part of the grammar.


You can express a good amount with just beginner level grammar, but there’s still a lot of intermediate/advanced grammar that native speakers will use and you won’t understand unless you’ve studied it.

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If my learning English in my teen years is any indication though, all the advanced grammar constructs are much easier to internalize by immersion, through reading/listening to a lot of material, than by actually reading about the theory of them. Big majority of Japanese didn’t read the theory and use them. Same works for English. So, unless your goal is to be able to discuss those with other Japanese grammar afficionados on Japanese Grammar Nazi conferences, I wouldn’t worry too much.


I haven’t finished Genki yet but I’m pretty sure it won’t teach you enough to explain or talk about abstract concepts, be able to express feelings and a lot of other things we take for granted in our native language. There is sure more to go beyond Genki if you plan to talk to natives on a more advance level.

I don’t have an advanced grammar book. Could you perhaps give some examples?

There’s a lot of examples of complicated grammar on :slight_smile:
Some random examples are: めったに~ない(hardly, rarely)、ふりをする (Pretend to do something)、ばかり (Only/just)、っぱなし(leaveing something in a certain state)、よう(appearance)、だけ(only, just)、つい(accidentally)
によって (By means of)


There are lots of good examples on Bunpro (it’s by the way).
If you go to any Wikipedia page or blog, there will be advanced grammar. I’m studying for N1 this December and when I watch TV in Japanese there are still lots of phrases I encounter that I have no idea what to make of.
It all depends on your goals, though. If you want to understand more than 80% of what you see in real life, you need to study advanced grammar. If you only want to become conversational, however, the grammar points in Genki may well be good enough.

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Whoops haha :sweat_smile: I’ll change that. I have it bookmarked so I never have to type the web address in

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I can only give my experience from learning German. I learnt what I would think of as grammar - sentence structure, verb tenses and how to form them, how adjectives change etc - from text books in terms of vocabulary, set phrases, idioms, etc none of that came from books but from living in a German speaking country and working in German (and trying to copy what I was reading and hearing).

Some people argue that a lot of the stuff that is above N3 grammar (and some N3 grammar included) can basically be called vocabulary instead.
I just finished the N3 grammar list from japanesetest4you and some of it feels more like vocab patterns rather than grammar for sure.
But in the end, maybe that’s what grammar is? I don’t know, I’m not a linguist. I just heard some people prefer to do basic grammar (N5, N4) and then learn the rest from exposure.

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Not a book, but I learned N2 and N3 grammar from the Nihongo no mori YouTube channel.

Specifically the N3 ( here and here ) series with Kento and the N2 (here) series with Yuki.

They’re in Japanese, but they speak clearly, and once you need grammar beyond the elementary level, chances are you’'ll be ready for that step as well.


I only did Genki I as a textbook study. Drills, dialogues, listening, etc.
After that I’ve been depending on immersion to continue learning grammar.
While immersing if I bump into a new piece of grammar, I check it in a reference book or youtube channel and a card goes to Anki (only to have a proper follow up of the grammar concepts I’m learning, I don’t really review them following the SRS intervals, but it’s easier to have a card for quick reference later).

After reading this article I’ve been using Genki II and then the Dicitonary of Basic Japanese Grammar as a checklist to see how much of the basic stuff I’ve covered so far.

This spreadsheet provides a checklist of gramatical concepts covered in the DOJG series. It’s nice to have it at hand so I get and idea of how much I’m ignorant about still :sweat_smile:

Anyway, going hand by hand with immersion, grammar becomes similar to vocab acquisition, same way I read a dictionary definition (or a couple) for a vocab I’m having trouble, I will check some refrence grammar books if the quick and simpler explanation won’t do it.


Some of the respondents have alluded that there’s more to grammar than verb conjugation and in order to get to higher levels of expression, one needs more. To address the OP and provide more clarification to the quoted portion above, I’ve brought the definition of grammar from a linguistics perspective (i.e., I just copied the definition from the Wikipedia page :sweat_smile:)

“In linguistics, grammar is the set of structural rules governing the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given natural language.”

In other words, this covers the rules of order (syntax), particle use (adpositions), changes to word forms (morphology), changes to pronunciation due use of words (e.g., content and content), the various function of certain expressions (e.g., すみません can be used to express an apology or to express thanks), etc. Beyond conjugation (which is changing vocabulary to express other information), you’re only going to be dealing with word combinations/arrangements to say certain things.

To the OP specifically,

So with just the Genki series level of knowledge, there will still be a lot a learner can’t express or understand. Definitely check out the earlier recommendations as well as the ultimate resource thread on WK (can’t link to it know through my phone).

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Genki is indeed elementary. Completing both will give you all the core verb conjugations, but not necessarily the breadth of constructions to communicate all basic ideas you might need. There are chronological constructions you make all the time in English that they won’t teach you how to render in Japanese.

Which is fine. They’re what they say there are: foundational Japanese books. They’ll give you the tools you need to interpret more complex constructions down the line.

Everything through the end of N3 material is, I would say, foundational Japanese, in that up through that point you’re still learning how to communicate basic ideas you take for granted in English. N3-oriented material begins to introduce more complex constructions along with finishing off the foundations, and by the time you’re into N2, you’re really learning nuance and are out of the woods, foundation-wise (learning how to say things you might have been able to express, clumsily, with earlier learning, but now with proper nuance, getting into more situation-specific constructions, etc.).

I’m not sure it’s fair to call them just “vocab patterns.” In N3 material, you’re still learning how to express core ideas previous material hasn’t taught you, and all of those constructions have their own do’s and don’t’s for what particles to use, how to conjugate material around them, etc. (all of which would certainly fall under the category of “grammar”). Keigo also brings its own set of conjugation rules. And in both N3 and N2, you get not only vocab patterns, but context-specific vocab mutations (when do I make something stem form? when do I make it an adverb? when do I attach what particle?, etc.), that are definitely “grammar.”

Like, let’s talk about わけ, which shows up in both N3 and N2 study. Technically it’s just a piece of vocab, but it’s part of no fewer than four different constructions with completely different meanings, depending on what particles and other vocabulary surround it, and each of those have multiple appropriate and inappropriate particle options as well.

I think it’s true that once you have the foundations (N5 up through the early parts of N3), you have enough to interpret most new constructions using previous language learning–as in you can see enough of what’s going on around them to figure out how they work–but there are still tricky technical grammar points and unintuitive parts.


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