Getting started with grammar and vocab

When should I start reading books. I’m currently level 3


Well, technically, you can start right now – it would not be very easy, but it’s certainly possible.
Here’s a good free source, btw:

But usually people start reading somewhere around level 20, assuming they have also been studying grammar too.

Anyway, best of luck to you!


Whenever you think you know enough vocabulary and ideally grammar so that you won’t struggle too much or get burned out from looking things up.

Everyone has different tolerance for this, so it depends on you.


What some people do, if they wanna start reading but don’t have much of a vocabulary yet, is they’ll take a book they’re interested in, skim through it for unknown vocab like a chapter at a time and load them into an anki deck or the like, and then study those before starting to read. If you choose a book club pick from on here (whether current or past), they’ll already have vocab lists made.

I’m more of a “jump straight in and look up what I don’t know as I go along” kind of guy, myself. It all depends on what you’re comfortable with.

That’s not counting grammar, though, which is probably more of a hurdle to reading than vocab. If you’re not studying grammar on the side yet, you should probably start doing that soon if you feel you have the time, but it is something that you can look up as you go along as well, it just may take more patience than looking up unknown words. (Edit: I just realized the title of your thread is “getting started with grammar and vocab,” duh, shows how much I pay attention. So that probably means you are starting grammar now, which is great! But for anyone else reading this who hasn’t yet: this still stands.)

Satori Reader, if you get the free trial or you’ve got the money to spend on another subscription, is also a good beginner’s resource. They’ve got stories of varying difficulties and they’re all broken up into super-short chapters, they’re fully voiced, they provide grammar and usage explanations for many items, you can choose how much furigana you want (and can even sync it to your WK progress), and you can toggle an English translation for every sentence.


there’s not really any “should” about this. you can start reading whenever you want to. but remember that WK is designed to teach you kanji, but that much of the common vocab is not written with kanji.

and as others said, you also need to learn grammar, which is a beast of its own.

all that said, i started reading my first manga at about WK 12 or 13. but it was a struggle.

Technically, I read through basic grammar once, but not really remembering or understanding everything right away; then start reading, from Graded Reader level 0, to around 3.

Vocabulary size does help, but grammar would be needed to pick out vocabularies at all.

Kanji (particularly readings) help more later on, but it is still better to know more relevant vocabularies, gathered from reading.

Nonetheless, I did go through Core 10k as well. I don’t particularly recommend it; although knowing enough vocabularies in advance should help.

i’m going through vocab by jlpt level over on kamesame. there’s a heck of a lot of useful and common vocab which i didn’t encounter elsewhere in just N5 and N4. and it’s much less of a chore than 10k

Your Wanikani level isn’t very indicative of when you’re good to start reading. You can be level 60 and and still be more qualified to read a book in Danish than in Japanese.

What’s really important is your grammar and your vocabulary level. If your grammar and vocabulary is good enough, you can read anything that has Furigana (which there is surprisingly a lot of). Kanji is just extra difficulty, so if you can’t read texts in Furigana, reading texts without it is gonna be even harder.

But if you’re grammatically and vocabulary-wise more or less proficient already, then it depends on two factors: the difficulty of the work you’re reading and your patience.

I’m currently on level 28 and I have a LN at home that doesn’t have furigana. Knowing about 950 Kanji, if I try to read it, there’ll be about 5 to 10 unknown Kanji encounters per page. Now you can decide for yourself whether looking up a Kanji 5 to 10 times a page is a worthy endeavor, or if you’d rather read something else until you know more Kanji for the sake of a better reading flow. And as for difficulty, a regular novel will probably have up to twice as many unknown Kanji per page, graded readers might even have less.

You’ll have to decide for yourself how much you want to understand and how much you’re willing to look up, and then look for something according to that level. That’s the best piece of advice I can give you.

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If you haven’t looked into grammar there’s no point in reading really. In my humble opinion of course.

You’ll get lost in a sea of hiragana and you’ll be frustrated. I say devote time to grammar and when you start to become comfortable then do some light reading!


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