High vocab before grammar?

I’ve been starting to dip my toe’s in some basic N5 level grammar using Bunpo and a few other resources. I do like Bunpo, but I greatly prefer WaniKani’s way of teaching the selective kanji/grammar that it does.

That being said, I find it very difficult to learn the in’s and out’s of grammar without knowing the vocabulary that the resources use to go along with the examples. I find if I have to look up the words they use in order to understand the sentence, I try to remember the word meaning at the same time as whatever grammar point the example is emphasizing. It feels like I maybe should try and remember more vocabulary before trying to use grammar to form them into sentences because when I do get sentences with worlds I recognize I find learning the grammar far more enjoyable and wind up practicing speaking sentences as well.

Is there anybody else who feels similar to this and, if so, what did you use (resource-wise) to get your vocabulary up to a comfortable level where you could enjoy learning grammar?

Use a textbook which gradually introduces both, like Minna no Nihongo or Genki.


As the user before me wrote: If that really annoys you, use some textbook for the very beginning.
I personally wouldn’t advice to use one for too long and work towards learning without such rather boring resources. But it can definitely help in the beginning to get the very basics of sentence structure down + most frequent words.

Other than that, reading helps. Reading a lot, simple graded readers or such things will make you learn vocabulary and grammar while doing something fun, you don’t need SRS for this if you don’t want to. The plus side of this is, you learn things in a very good context, which makes the information stick better.

I’m working with Genki for grammar, and my learning preferences are similar to yours.

My solution: I snagged an Anki deck with all the Genki-specific vocab, then have been studying three chapters ahead of my active grammar chapter. By the time I reach a new chapter in Genki, I pretty much have all the vocab down cold and can focus on the nuances of grammar.


WK teaches basically zero grammar.

I agree with @MadAsgardian that you probably want a textbook or similar to get you started with the grammar. I personally like bunpro a lot, but it works better a as a reference and for extra practice, it’s a bit rough to use it to get started from scratch.

Once you’ve covered basically all the N5 grammar you can abandon textbooks if you dislike them and just use bunpro + reading practice from that point onward (that’s what I do).

Genki is super popular but I found it a bit too “school-y” for my taste. I eventually went with Cure Dolly’s videos + Tae Kim. I didn’t finish either course mind you, as I pointed out above this is really only necessary to make sense of the absolutely basic grammar (adjectives, verbs, particles, conjugations, basic sentence structure etc…).

Oh and I also used this Anki deck for additional practice: https://ankiweb.net/shared/info/911122782

You can tweak it to hide the roumaji.

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That’s why I chose to start bunpro when I was way into wk. lvl 30ish here

Then I could focus only in the grammar point, and not stopping to look up words all the time, when doing bunpro.

I went to n5 to n1 in one year. Now am back to focus only on increasing my vocab from now on.


Yeah that’s also true, it becomes a lot easier to learn grammar when you don’t have to look up every word and kanji you encounter. Focusing heavily on WK for the first 20 to 30 levels even if it means you don’t do much else is not necessarily a bad idea.

Do you think it beneficial then to pepper in Anki decks for genki vocab in addition to WaniKani to maybe speed up the process I guess? Is there a difference between Bunpo and Bunpro? I currently have Bunpo but don’t feel it’s working too well because of the vocab thing.

I actually really like this idea. I think I’m going to combine this with what someone else suggested. I just downloaded Anki and am not exactly familiar with how to use it yet. Do you just search for Genki vocab?

I did an anki deck of the genki vocab while I was doing it and I wish I just did a 2k/6k/10k deck instead.

The genki vocab is really good for doing genki exercises but doesn’t help immediately with other native content

Bunpro takes sentences from books like genki, minna no nihongo, tobira etc

So yes you could do that creating anki decks to speed up the process for getting more vocab if you are in a hurry for such.

The main issue here is not overwhelming yourself and burnout and be one more of those users who create threads here as soon as they leave early level on wanikani: “should I reset?”

re: finding Genki vocab for Anki
Once you get your head around Anki — it can be a bit user-unfriendly at times — you can head over to the unofficial Genki Study Resources pages on Github and download the decks found here. They’re broken down by lesson/chapter, so it makes it very easy to pace yourself.

And while you’re there, stay for all the interactive exercises and drills. Really helps cement the Genki grammar points as you learn them.

Biased opinion here (since I’m a team member), but marumori.io builds up its grammar lessons by using vocabulary that has taught you in advance :slight_smile: Check it out, 14 days of free trial to be (ab)used!

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Ah, that is a good point. I don’t want to stretch myself too thin.

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