Grammar Beyond N1

Just curious how much (modern) grammar beyond the scope of JLPT exists, and what the best source would be to start consuming it? I would assume native college textbooks would be a primary source.

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JLPT “grammar” at the N3 level and beyond starts to become more set expressions with specific nuances, rather than anything people usually think of as grammar (for example, 案の定 is listed as N1 grammar, but I don’t really see why that couldn’t be thought of as vocabulary). As such, there are always going to be more and more obscure things people can use in literature and whatnot, but the best way to find them would be to read lots of difficult books.


Well, old Japanese (i.e. 古文) is definitely beyond the scope of the N1, but you will sometimes find character that uses it in fiction. So, I guess it counts?
You can learn it through exposure or by reading text books on the topic (I think it’s taught at the high school level)


古文 would actually be grammar (in the sense linguists would recognize as grammar) that is beyond N1, and not just obscure vocabulary. So if grammar was what you were truly after, then that does seem like a valid option.




Thanks for that. So basically it just gets more idiomatic/esoteric and mostly appears in written format from the sounds of it, and is far more likely to appear in classical literature? Somewhat like Shakespearian Japanese?

I mean, you don’t have to go to the equivalent of Shakespearian Japanese as long as all you want is more of the stuff that the JLPT considers high level grammar.

I suppose dialectal grammar could also be considered “beyond” the JLPT. Though it won’t necessarily resemble those “N0” entries.

I’m laughing imagining answering with わからへん on the JLPT.


The other options being 理解不能, 解せぬ, and なにぃぃぃぃ?!?


Written format? Yes, often enough. Esoteric? Not really. There’s a lot of N2 grammar in newspapers, for example. My opinion is that everything up to N3 is roughly ‘common elements of sentence structure for compound sentences’, and N2 stuff is context-specific (e.g. expresses a certain opinion or type of reasoning) but still quite common. N1 stuff is literary or idiomatic usage, like uh… ‘in so doing’, ‘there shall he…’ or ‘the time is nigh’ in English (i.e. phrases and structure that one wouldn’t really use in everyday sentences).

For what’s ‘beyond N1’, I’m not really sure if I’ve come across a lot of it yet, but I think @yasu1’s link is a good start? That was the first thing that came to mind when I saw your question. I think there’s a section like that on as well. Honestly though, if we’re just talking about common usage, but excluding dialects, there are plenty of little phrases that Japanese people use that you can look up easily online, but which don’t appear on the JLPT. I don’t have any examples in mind right now, but I’ve searched enough of them to be sure they exist. I think you could perhaps also count advanced keigo as beyond N1? You don’t really need more than N1 knowledge to understand it, but to use it, and to know when a certain keigo structure is technically wrong etc, you do need a deeper knowledge than what’s on the JLPT, and it’s definitely not at all rare in business communications. I don’t really think you’re going to find ‘post-N1 knowledge’ explicitly in college textbooks though, unless you’re reading books for Japanese language and literature majors. (I read university studies on Japanese usage quite often in search of answers to my questions, and my experience is that vocabulary is usually what prevents me from understanding – i.e. technical terms – not so much grammar I’ve never seen before. I don’t think university textbooks will be much more complex.)

Seriously though, I think reading just about any sort of complex, organised writing will expose you to some of it. Long news articles might be a decent start, but novels – including light novels! – and non-fiction works also use structures that are relatively rare in other contexts. Anything with strong links to or references involving Japanese traditions will probably also bring in some Classical Japanese, though it won’t necessarily explain it (e.g. in How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift?, a parody of a classical poem is used as a joke).

Just a final thought: if my experience with French is any indication, honestly, beyond a certain point, ‘grammar points’ don’t really exist anymore. Certain expressions will come up from time to time with very specific meanings, but in the grand scheme of things, they’re really rare. You can comfortably reach a C1 level (which is higher than what the JLPT N1 evaluates, in my opinion) in French without knowing any of the literary expressions I have in mind, and frankly, they didn’t even come up on my C2 exam. All the ‘hardest’ grammatical features and set expressions of a language are things that you only come across through wide reading and possibly perusing grammar trivia sites (e.g. the changing grammatical genders of certain French words when they’re in the plural, the rules for correctly agreeing the past participle of ‘to see’ when it’s used as a semi-auxiliary verb, the conditions for the use of the imperfect of the subjunctive). I can’t really tell you how I went from C1 to C2 in French beyond the fact that I read lots of news articles, many entries of highly respected dictionaries, and lots of sites on strange features of French grammar, including the site of the Académie Française. Similarly, I don’t think there’ll be any one source for all or even most modern ‘post-N1 grammar’ in Japanese.