How do/did you learn te-form? (or grammar in general)

I’m a bit behind on learning grammar and wanted to start doing that more actively again.
The te-form seems like a good point to start again. Aside from Wanikani I usually study with flashcards on Anki.So I could make a bunch of flashcards for the different forms.
I could also start reading more and learn it through experience. But I’m usually getting stuck somewhere, because I don’t know the vocabulary or certain grammar rules. So it usually takes a lot of time and I can’t invest much time right now. Maybe that will get better if I do that more regularly though?

How do you guys usually learn grammar? How did you learn the te-forms?


I assume you’re familiar with the Te-form song? It will get stuck in your head and you’ll wish you could get it out again.


Thanks, I didn’t know that one, but to be honest, I’m not a big fan of vocaloids, not sure if that will get stuck :sweat_smile:


Ignore the Vocaloid voice and just focus on the fact that the tune is Country Road?

I learnt my grammar in class at university. The mnemonic song we were taught had a different tune, but it certainly worked - the main trick was in not singing it out loud in exams.


There are a lot of “covers” of the te-form song


I will try doing that :sweat_smile:

Good to know, I’ll look into them.

And now I have country roads stuck in my head. :grin:






“Take me home
" むぶぬんで”
“Country roads”
“To the place”
“I belong”
“West Virginia”
“Mountain mama”
“Take me home”
“Country roads”

(Edit: a cat beat me to it)


I just kept going and learnt more grammar. Almost everything builds off of the -て form anyway, so after a while it just stuck.

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I read an explanation and look at a few example sentences so that the structure makes sense and I feel like I have an idea of how it’s used. After that… I kinda just go back to reading, watching anime and so on and hope that the structure will stick? If I encounter it again and I’ve forgotten what it means, I’ll just look it up. Rinse and repeat. Also, I tend to try to break grammatical structures down into their constituent parts so I have a way of deducing what they mean if I forget.

I had a list of the changes that happen for particular consonant rows and gradually absorbed them through exposure. Over time, I think you’ll develop a list of go-to verbs that will help you remember how to form the て-form for a particular consonant when you forget (because they’re classic examples). These rules are for godan verbs, of course. Let me see if I can recreate a similar list from memory…

つ, う, る – って: っ is just a little つ, so that’s easy. For う I think of 言って. For る… no particular example, but I’m used to it by now. Maybe 知る? しる→しって
く – いて: I think of… つく, I guess?
ぐ – いで: そそぐ is an example? I don’t know, I find this consonant rare, and how I actually remember it is this: G is the voiced version of K, and D is the voiced version of T, so of course, when Ku becomes Gu, iTe will become iDe.
ぶ, ぬ, む – んで: if you ‘collapse’ the vowel in ぬ, you get ん. Logical. For ぶ, I think of 飛ぶ, and for む, I guess のむ works? Honestly though, you can just tell yourself something like ‘M is similar to N, and both B and M are sounds pronounced by putting one’s lips together’, and so somehow that gives us んで for everything. You could even go with some sort of ‘rendaku’ logic e.g. you get the ん from the consonant used, and then you tell yourself that it can’t be -nTe because ん often causes rendaku in Japanese, so it’s -nDe.
す – して: mentally, I treat all す verbs as relatives of する. They all seem to have a ‘cause/do’ meaning after all, so they have to be conjugated the same way.

By the way, I have no idea if this helps you, but I believe the て-forms are historically all descended from the masu-stem (the one ending in an ‘I’ sound) + て, so what I do is that I mentally make up some story for what happened to each of the sounds: if you try to pronounce -hiTE or -riTE quickly, I think it’s quite naturally for the H and R sounds to collapse and vanish, leaving you with a glottal stop (represented by っ). Similar thing with -chiTE, I think. As for -kiTE and -giTE, I imagine that the K and G sounds are pretty small in front of an I, so they vanished and the voicing got transferred to the て・で. As for N, M and B, just try pronouncing -niTE, -miTE and -biTE quickly after vowel. This last approach is just a personal, pseudo-historical attempt at recreating the pronunciation shifts in Japanese though, so if it doesn’t help you because it requires too much background knowledge, ignore it. It’s just an idea for you to consider.

I guess that’s all from me. I added a lot of details to the list because these are the ideas I use to make the て-form ‘logical’ for me. I can’t guarantee that they’ll help you though. That aside, I watch a lot of anime, so after a while, the sounds just stuck.

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How did you learn?

I use bunpro for grammar.


Thanks a lot. Your mnemonics seem useful. I like them. If they’re going to help, I’ll have to see.

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Grammar no actually japanese in generalーi read tweets of Japanese artists i’m following. I dissect it and if i have words i don’t know, i look it up.

Like for example, this verb is always on their tweet ー 歌う (to sing) / 歌って

Well, this method works for me for someone who gets bored reading a textbookand it actually does stick.


Maybe I’ll try that. I haven’t used twitter in a while. But more exposure to Japanese will definitely help.

I learned te form through the program Human Japanese. The “A Dictionary of Japanese Grammar” books are also fantastic resources and will answer any grammar questions you could ever have, but they’re pretty expensive (def worth it, though).


Believe it or not, Wikipedia has a decent overview of all verb types and their conjugated forms. I just made flash cards using their examples and learned a bunch of new verbs + how to conjugate them in one go.

As a bonus, you’ll also learn some of the fancy linguistic terminology that’s often thrown around on these forums, so you’ll be able to understand the nerd herd whenever they congregate on a topic.

I also second this suggestion. I have the full set (Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced). You can get them on Amazon. Honestly, the “Basic” dictionary covers a lot of the intermediate level grammar too.

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That is a great idea. Which artists do you follow?

I’m genuinely surprised that I don’t see Bunpro mentioned more.
It’s really a really chip, SRS system that teaches grammar systematically.
You’ll be introduced to a formula, then given example sentences (often with audio available) as well as links to more robust resources such as Japanese Ammo, Imabi, Tae Kim, Cure Dolly, along others.
Also, unlike a lot of SRS systems, it forces output which makes you learn production, rather than just recognition. It’s a lot harder at first, but it makes you more intimately acquainted with the grammar, so that when subtle differences between grammar points show up, you’re better able to recognize exactly how they differ.
A classic example would be そう。
雨が降りそうだ vs 雨が降るそうだ
(It looks like it’ll rain vs I heard it will rain.)