I'm level 2 and wonder if I should start grammar?

So I’ve been using the Tofugu guide to learning Japanese and they suggest starting grammar after you reach about level 10 so that you have a backlog of vocab to reference. I’m finding it hard to really understand the vocab without a background in how verb conjugations and different adjective types work though. I constantly mix up words like 下げる (to lower) and 下がる (to fall). Does anyone have advice for what helped them? I’m not that far in and it’s already becoming a headache but I don’t want to give up. I’d really appreciate any tips!


I’ve always felt that there’s no reason to wait. If you want to start, and you think it will help you, then I wouldn’t let the Tofugu outline hold you back.


I really think you should go with whatever works best for you!
As of right now, I’m personally sticking with the Tofugu outline and I recently created a schedule for WaniKani so I’m trying to get into the groove of that first. But If you feel the need to start grammar now, I honestly don’t see how that would be detrimental or anything crazy like that. Especially since you mentioned what you’re learning on WK isn’t sticking too well.
Again, I think its personal preference. Good Luck!

(P.S. 下がる、下げる、上がる、and 上げる were pretty hard for me too learn too. I’m only level 4 so far, but I haven’t come across anything in WK so far as difficult to memorize as these guys. So there is a light at the end of the tunnel. What I found to be helpful was to make up my own mnemonic, specifically focused on the difference between が and げ. It helped a lot.


Verbs that have an e/a vowel change in them tend to have a different focus on the subject. For example, who falls? The subject falls. But what is lowered? An object.

I’ll look up more examples and add them.
上げる- something is raised, 上がる- the subject rises 例:僕が頭を上げる。午前6時に僕が上がる。
止める- something is stopped, 止まる- the subject stops 例:警察が車を止める。僕が信号で止ました。
広げる- something is spread, 広がる- the subject spreads 例:僕がナイフでバターを広げる。コロナが広がる。
曲げる- something is bent, 曲がる- the subject is bent 例:僕が足を曲げる。えんぴつが曲がった。残念。

In linguistics, we say that these types of verbs have a different number of arguments, the parts a verb needs to be complete. For example- “I raise my hand” has 2 arguments- I and hand. You can’t just say “I raise.” However, “The sun rises” has 1 argument- the sun. It doesn’t need anything else to be complete. Most verbs in Japanese have 1-3 arguments.

If I’ve written any example sentences incorrectly, please correct me. I feel confident, but I’m not 100% sure if my particle choice is acceptable.


That’s good to hear! And yeah I think I just like to know the rules of why things change the way they do (like with が and げ) so I have a rationale I can use when reading.

Tofugu’s guide is just a guide, it’s not the law. A lot of us have been quite successful with learning grammar from day one, so don’t feel like you have to stick with that guide if it’s not working for you.


I didn’t even start WK until I was over a year into learning Japanese, so there’s definitely no need to wait


Thanks for all the comments! I definitely know the outline is not the law haha. I just wanted to know what other folks had done for grammar. I think I’ll start working on it a bit now instead of waiting.


Pointing out how the e/a vowel change makes a difference helps a lot, thanks for your examples as well! It really put it into perspective for me… I hope this helps OP as well :relaxed:

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Hi! I think it’s fine to start learning grammar as soon as you feel ready. I’ve been using BunPro https://bunpro.jp/ for grammar practice, and I’ve found it to be really helpful. You can enable furigana for kanji that you don’t know yet, so it should be fine even if you don’t know many kanji. Tae Kim’s Guide to Learning Japanese has a lot of useful grammar articles, too. http://www.guidetojapanese.org/
Keep in mind that as you start adding more elements of Japanese learning, you may have to slow down your kanji learning to accommodate the extra studying time spent on other things.

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Yes! I regret taking too long to start going with grammar. If you want a bare-bones crash course I recommend the Human Japanese software.
Without Human Japanese, I would not have started WK.
But if you want a slower but deeper approach the Genki textbook is your best bet (make sure do to all exercises in the workbook). I use Bunpro as a supplement to Genki’s grammar exercises but I think it would be insane to try to learn grammar just using Bunpro. Tae Kim guide is a good reference source for grammar but it has very few exercises.

What do you mean by that? It has the practice problems after each concept, at least in the beginning it does.

I use most the Kindle version of his book that I bought on Amazon. Searching “exercises” on the book returns only the word exercise 運動…
I guess that is what you get for trying to support him…
In the few times I looked at the online version, I did not see exercises. I just went to check the section on “Conditionals” and there are no exercises… Since it seems it has some exercises in the book, I’m changing my original post.

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I checked out the section conditionals are under. It seems that “Essential Grammar” doesn’t have exercises. It might only be “Basic Grammar” that has exercises. Sorry, I switched to Pomax fairly early in my Tae Kim reading.

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Or if you don’t like exercises, it’s okay to not do any, as well. I hate textbook exercises with a passion, and probably would never have gotten this far if I’d had had to do exercises. Personally, I don’t really find them efficient, fun or useful.


下がる、下げる、上がる、and 上げる were pretty hard for me too learn too.

Level 17, almost 18, and I still have flashbacks of these… I am just hoping I got them well enough to get me to push them to burned :smiley:

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Yes, yes, yes.

I’m still lazy with grammar. Without it, you can’t really apply the kanji you’re learning. Start as soon as possible, in my opinion. Because that’s where there’s a bit of a grind.


For me, it’s a bit of a chicken-egg question - do you start grammar without the vocab to understand the example sentences, or do you skip grammar and not understand how transitive / intransitive verbs work? Don’t know! I waited, although not following Tofugu, simply because teaching myself wasn’t happening and finding a tutor locally was difficult.

However, to speak to your specific question, I remember 下がる as “to fall” because the vowel sound in “fall” and が are roughly the same. Similarly, “to raise” has a similar sound to げ of 上げる :slight_smile:

If you use a textbook, it usually contains a passage of text, and you will learn the vocab for that text together with the grammar that is contained in it. Subsequent chapters build on your previous knowledge, and so you will gradually build your knowledge of both together.


Yes, that’s how the textbooks worked that I ended up using once I found a tutor. My problem with that is that the vocab then arrives in tiny little dribs and drabs.