GPT for vocabulary and grammar explanations

I use ChatGPT very frequently to have additional context on what I’m currently learning. I currently have it tuned to focus not only on an explanation but including multiple examples, synonyms, antonyms. I have found that having broader context helps me with retaining the vocabulary.

You can try at: ChatGPT - Sensei Nihongo. You will need the pay version (thanks to @Leebo for the callout).

Please, feel free to let me know if you have feedback. I’ll have happy to tweak it further. Also, a reminder that GPT can give false information (their purpose is not to give factually correct information) so I usually use it to expand on something I already have some knowledge since I can tell if the answer seems about right or it’s an hallucination.


I regularly use ChatGPT for this too. I find that for pure translation and breaking down sentences it does a fairly good job, but when asked for anything beyond that it very easily goes off the rails and makes stuff up.

Also a small thing that deeply frustrates me is that by default ChatGPT always wants to transcribe the Japanese words and expression in roumaji and I find that distracting, but he keeps doing it no matter how much I insist in my custom instructions that he shouldn’t do it.

I guess it’s my fault for being too much of a pleb to just have the full interaction in japanese.

1 Like

We have to pay for ChatGPT to be able to try it?

I’m not sure​:grimacing:. My work gives me a subscription. Maybe signup for the free plan and let me know how it goes? I’ll update the post to include that info :pray:.

1 Like

I don’t know anything about ChatGPT outside of using it briefly a few times, I was just basing it on this.


I feel like AI stuff is more useful the better you are at detecting when it is making shit up. To that end, I don’t think they’re particularly useful for learning without heavy cross-referencing against other sources.

DeepL is already bad enough at just making shit up lol


Oh I see! Yeah it does required the pay version :sob:.

Totally agree that it’s not helpful when learning something new. I think to expand on what you already know something about it can be. Hence my callout in the post about hallucinations. It’s not perfect. No tool is tho. It’s one more option that someone may find helpful.

1 Like

Bard told me to yell at students in anger is a good response to when they misbehave. Like you said, you basically have to be a step ahead of it for it to be useful. That’s been my consistent experience with AI so far.

1 Like

You can use Bing with GPT4 for free and ask it to translate and explain precisely the grammar and it does a pretty good job.

1 Like

I gave ChatGPT a question that I saw a real beginner ask recently and it failed pretty hard.

The correct answer is that 学校で勉強する is correct and 学校に勉強する is just ungrammatical, but if a beginner asked that question, which they’d probably only do because they already thought に was possible, they’d be left without any particular reason to check further.

Without some internal knowledge base, you end up having to always doubt everything it says, and then you just end up going elsewhere to confirm anyway.

To be fair, I guess since I’m not paying, this is an “inferior” version to some extent. But I imagine if people are willing to pay for something, they’re probably just going to pay for established resources anyway.


ChatGPT doesn’t really mean anything. Is it GPT4 or GPT3? depending on that, your experience will be vastly different.

Anyway here is the answer from Bing (GPT4):

学校で勉強する and 学校に勉強する are two Japanese phrases that are used to describe studying at school. The difference between the two is that 学校で勉強する means “to study at school,” while 学校に勉強する is grammatically incorrect ¹²³.
I hope this helps!


Yes, I added a comment at the bottom that it’s the free version. In Version 4 there, it still describes both as “Japanese phrases that are used to describe studying at school” before then noting that one is incorrect at least.

I’m glad it was able to get over that 1-millimeter high hurdle, though. If I have time later, I will try giving it more difficult questions.

Still, at the end of the day, you need to know the information already to be able to make that judgement, so it doesn’t really change how I feel that much. And I think the number of people who still assume that the free version on the official website will give them helpful answers is still pretty high.


Happy to delete the post if we think this is detrimental to the community. The pros/cons of gpt are well understood and my intention is not to rehash them.


Could you give an example? When you ask it for explanations or what is the specific context?

I think that would help in general. At least that’s what I usually do and works quite well :slight_smile:

That kind of invalidates AI for use in tasks which rely on correct information, which I feel is critical to learning. Leebo already provided a good example.

Where I think it does make sense is as a replacement for a speaking partner. In a classroom environment you would also have to work with people whose Japanese is imperfect and/or unnatural so the only missing component is the teacher.

Well of course just when I want to demonstrate it won’t do it anymore.

Basically what I often ask it to do is break down and translate Japanese sentences, and in so doing it would write things like:

日本語 (nihongo): This means “Japanese language.”

When I want it to write:

日本語 (にほんご): This means “Japanese language.”

I just find roumaji distracting for transliteration and suboptimal when I can read kana just fine.


Ah, gotcha. I think it gets noticeably better when you just write to it in Japanese, however it’s kind of difficult to force it to speak in a specific way for longer. Like, casual vs です・ます works, but 尊敬語 is a mixed bag and so is roleplay. At least the last time I used it.

1 Like

You mean having the whole convo in Japanese instead of English?

Honestly I should, but reading Japanese is still soooo sloooow for me that I get lazy.

I’m at that early-intermediate point where if I make the effort to actually read the sentence I will understand it most of the time, but it takes a lot of effort for me to do so.


I’ve been using GPT recently to give me mnemonics for the kanji/vocubalary I have trouble remembering from WK. It has been quite useful some mnemonics are very good. For example, I was having the hardest time remembering the on’yomi reading for the kanji 号 despite how easy the reading actually is and GPT came up with a clever one.

  • The number (号) each contestant wears links directly to the kanji’s meaning.
  • The superhero’s name, “Gou,” and the number 五 (go), provide a phonetic clue to the kanji’s reading, “gou.”
  • The excitement around “number 五” emphasizes the kanji’s meaning of “number.”

Yup yup, exactly that. Might wanna try now actually. I haven’t talked to ChatGPT for a while :smiley:

I mean, the explanation is lengthy as hell, but it is comprehensive.

1 Like