How did you learn advanced grammar? (N3+)

I’ve asked this question on the JLPT results thread and got a couple of nice answers but I wanted to hear from other people.

I recently passed N3 but grammar remains my Achilles’ heel. I’ve been taking classes for the past 3 years using the Minna no Nihongo books (both 初級 and 中級), but it seems to me that even finishing the whole MNN series (we’re on the last book right now) is not going to be enough to get to an N2 level, much less N1 or beyond.

So, to the people who have reached those levels, I ask: how did you learn grammar?

1 Like

I personally just read books and visual novels and would just look up grammar as I came across it. Would just google it and click the first result usually. Would look at a brief english equivalent or japanese sentence and then just look at example sentences until it made sense, really.


I think of it from a mathematical perspective. When I’m trying to muscle-memorize a theorem, I’ll start by plugging in numbers and confirming that everything works as it should. If I’m preparing a lecture, I’ll do the assigned homework myself and then make similar problems up. I’ll read a proof or two if I have time.

Similarly, with grammar, I’ll look the topic up in the Makino/Tsutsui dictionaries and plug in words and make sentences up. I try to use words that I recently mined or missed in WaniKani. When I have trouble using the words, I look them up in 明鏡国語辞典 and start from the example sentence fragments. Sometimes I’ll make it more interesting for myself by writing in a dialect or trying to sound more masculine/feminine on purpose.

As Vanilla here and I were just discussing in another thread, you’d ideally want to show your writing to a native speaker who understands your goals and will give you feedback accordingly. At the moment, that’s an ongoing challenge for me but I’m working on it!


Reading, rarely looking stuff up, and watching youtube videos. Nihongo to Tabi and Nihongo no mori are my faves for the youtube.
Slow osmosis through reading really has benefited me the most though.


For up to N2 level (strictly speaking, old level 2, but it’s about the same) – I was studying in a Japanese language school. The textbooks we used were the blue and red New Approach ‘intermediate’ and ‘pre-advanced’ books, which covered most of the major grammar. I dunno that I could recommend them for self-study, but in a classroom environment they were fine, because the teachers supplemented the textbooks with more examples, explanations and practice. Then there were supplementary more JLPT-focused classes that worked through the Kanzen Master grammar book, some of which overlapped with the main textbooks and some of which didn’t – this was more of a fast-paced run through the ‘easy’ sentence pattern stuff. Throughout all of this I used the Dictionaries of Basic/Intermediate/Advanced Grammar as a reference source and set of alternate explanations when I didn’t understand something.

For N2 to N1 – I spent a lot of time basically just reading, which is a good way to solidify understanding of grammar because it keeps turning up in what you read. Then before the N1 I did some test prep where I went through a list of N1 grammar points and picked out the subset I didn’t already know, studied them and then used somebody’s pre-built anki deck to just reinforce them a bit. Somewhere around here I also picked up 日本語文型辞典 which is a nice source of shorter explanations of things that are too minor for the Do{BIA}JG to cover.


Bunpro - (SRS for grammar)


I’ve got all three dictionaries of japanese grammar, used an interdisciplinary approach to intermediate japanese, tobira, and defintely covers quite a few bases

1 Like

I just started using Bunpro and it is pretty much WaniKani but for grammar. Using SRS to also cover grammar is a great idea IMHO.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.