Is there a good way to train the vocabularies?

howdy, i am very new to wanikani and already have a question for the further weeks. i know wanikani is for learning kanji in first place, but i’d love to learn how to use them, too. so when i learned my first vocabularies, i already had the problem that i had no idea how to use them. for example if i want to ask how big the population of japan is.
i know the kanji for japan (日本), population (人口) and big (大きい). but i have no clue how to build the sentence.

is it a good step to learn japanese by just learning the kanji and vocabularies without context, or should i start learning grammar very early so i can use the words? i’m sorry if this was already asked.

One problem that you’ve run into right off the bat is that in Japanese, they don’t use the word 大きい to talk about population. A population is 多い (many) or 少ない (few). That problem (of direct translations not working out so great) will happen a lot in the course of your studies.

Unfortunately, WK won’t teach you how to use the words you learn, just how to read them and the core meaning.

Something like a textbook can guide you through the basics in a structured way, even though that might be a bit boring.


hello @Leebo ! thank you very much for you fast answer! it’s already very useful to know, that i have to take care what words i can use for certain situations! can you recommend me a textbook? i heard that genki is quite good, but also designed for students. so i’m not sure if it’s also helpful for a self learner ;_;

Sadly the nuance of words is skipped in WK… The best way to get that is by input (reading/listening) or monolingual dictionary, but it might be a bit early for that.

You should start working on grammar early if you want to know how to use words. Tae Kim is a really good place to start.

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There are sentences in vocab items. They’re too complicated for first levels but better than nothing imo.


I used both Genki I and II and really enjoyed learining with them.They gave me a good foundation on japanese grammar. They have lots of exercises that you can do on your own too ( I’m a self-learner too btw)

I heard Minna no Nihongo is quite good as well. The only thing that bothers me about the series is that you have to switch between several books to complete a single lesson.

There’s also japanese from zero. And as you might tell from the title of the books already they teach you japanese very slow. But the book also has a website to accompany your studys.

If you just want a grammar guide you could buy Japanese the Manga Way. It’s a good book, but it just teaches grammar without any exercises.


Personally I found Duolingo, Mango Languages and BunPro really helpful for learning to build sentences when I was just starting.

Also want to mention, for easier googling, that the language-learning term for “words that go together” is “collocations.” A book like this can help you learn how to use the words you’ve acquired.

2 Likes was pretty useful in getting me started with vocab at least. It reads out sample sentences for all the words.

Costs money though. The Core6K anki deck contains the same material but may require more work from you to wrangle into what you need.

Nowadays I only study the vocab I enounter naturally and look up in a dictionary.

I personally found it easier to pick up grammar after I knew at least the most common words.


Waaaaaaaaaaah you guys are incredible! i haven’t expected to get so many helpful answers! thank you for generally motivating me to learn grammar early! it gives me some kind of confidence, that my feeling wasn’t wrong and that it’s useful to use the words i learn here. thank you a lot!

i had a short look at tae kim and saw that there are some good and detailed rules listed. thank you a lot, i will try to use that pdf!

i started to learn with duolingo awhile ago and i’m not far (so far i enjoy the system), but already have a problem that there is not much explained yet. and some sentences are probably not very useful for me (f.e. “there are 2 chairs in the room”), so i want to learn from different sources to have a better overview! certainly will have a look into genki I when i have the money left! also still have to check out the other sorces you gave me! thank you a very lot for your detailed answers and your help! let’s do our best with learning! o((^▽^))o

@Kalas @Chopper @Lelly @ctlnctln @crihak


I‘m glad that I could help you!!(^▽^)

Another good ressource would be Lingodeer. It‘s a free app and it gives you basic understanding of grammar (up to N5 I think). It also teaches a few common vocab words.

You could also check out Human Japanese. It’s a online Texbook and compared to other textbooks it’s pretty cheap. It gives good grammar explanations but also lacks exercises.

頑張りましょう! (^o^)/

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