Japanese is really making me struggle

For grammar, I have to recommend the books described in this Tofugu article: https://www.tofugu.com/reviews/dictionary-of-basic-japanese-grammar/

They contain a lot more detail than Cure Dolly, and even more and more simply put than Tae Kim.


The Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar is already on my desk and I like it very much, esp. the explainy bits at the front and the tables in the back, but it’s still mostly a reference book.

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Really!? I never knew that!

I could imagine reading (just use the on-yomi, it’ll probably be similar) but speaking too???

Yup, if you can memorize 2000 Kanji, you are pretty set on understanding Chinese too.

Try running the sentences in Google translator, you will find they sound very similar too, somewhat like a dialect.

Wǒ chī xīnxiān de dòu
Lit: I Eat Fresh Beans

(Watashi wa) shinsen’na mame o taberu
Lit: I Fresh Beans Eat

乾杯: Gānbēi vs Kanpai
成功: Chénggōng vs Seikō

乾杯/干杯! 祝你成功
Gānbēi! Zhù nǐ Chénggōng
Lit: Cheers! Wish you success

乾杯! 成功をお祈りしています。
Kanpai! Seikō o oinori shite imasu.
Lit: Cheers! Success Wish

新聞: Xīnwén vs Shinbun
三点半 vs 三時半: Sān diǎn bàn vs San-ji han

Wǒ jīntiān sān diǎn bàn kànle xīnwén
Lit: I today 3.30 see news

Watashi wa kesa san-jihan ni shinbun o yomimashita
Lit: I today morning 3.30 read news

I read some where that Korean grammar is very similar to Japanese too (I don’t know Korean so I can’t give examples).

Even Japanese kids in Japanese schools seem to get brute force drilled and drilled until they just know their 国語 by rote

meanwhile I only know Japanese and my Japanese is bad sigh.
maybe you just need more time for it.

I’ve been studing for about 4 years now (2 by myself and 2 at uni) and I’m just now (somewhat) able to have a normal conversation that isn’t just basically smalltalk, although vocabulary is still kind of a problem.
The more you listen to grammar in conversation, music, games or whatever kind of Japanese media you’re into, the easier you recognize words and phrases to a point where you won’t have to translate in your head anymore.
If you don’t understand every single detail of a sentence, that’s fine too. The main thing in the beginning really is getting the jist and the basic meaning of whatever is beeing communicated.
Also to learn Japanese to a level where you’re proficient, you will have to invest massive amounts of time compared to learning another european language when you already speak one. I head once that in the same amount of time, you could learn something like Russian, Swedish and Spanish.
So especially when Japanese is a sideproject that you learn paralel to a job or university etc. it might be a bit overwhelming and take quite a while before you really start to see satisfiying progress.
I also stopped learning at some point for like half a year, because I felt like a hit somewhat of a brick wall. I guess it’s normal to feel like there’s no point to it, but I can promise to you, that if you keep at it, you will reach a point where you feel accomplished, although that point is different for everyone.

Just try to keep up your motivation, do a little bit every day and you will succeed!


Man, you should really watch Cure Dolly’s videos in youtube. It’s way better than anything I tried before (Genki, Tae Kim, and others I can’t remember right now). Maybe you will find her presentation a little offputting (her voice and avatar) but I swear to you she is the best at japanese grammar, you will not find anything remotely similar to her in video format.
In printed format I recommend to you “Making sense of Japanese” by Jay Rubin. Cure Dolly learned from him through his book (IIRC) and then she kept building upon it.
Please, check Cure Dolly, you won’t regret it.


I must say, it has a quite frustrating component.

I’m German, speak English and okay French. I’m pretty sure I could get to fluent Spanish or Italian faster than to fluent Japanese, even though I have quite the head start on Japanese…

But I care more about Japanese :grimacing:

In many European countries people learn 3 to 4 languages in school. And this is like math. Some are good at it and others leave school and barely speak three words of the language they’ve “learned” for 2 to 8 years.

Speak Chinese well? Maybe you mean “read”?

Because the idea of Katakanized Chinese is terrifying.

Yeah, I’m curious what “many” means in that post, as well.

This is anecdotal evidence, but for some reason, I was usually spoken to in Chinese when I try to order something in English.

I remember in my first trip to Japan, I was trying to buy some fried rice in Ikebukuro using English/gestures, when the server just looked at me directly and asked “你会说中文吗” (Can you speak Chinese?). I give her a blank stare for a few seconds before recovering and proceed to order in Chinese

That happened every time I went to Japan, from Uniqlo in Shinjuku, to a bustling gift shop in Kyoto, Gion. Granted, that may be that Chinese migrants tend to work in salespersons occupations. Since I am not a native, I cannot tell their accent apart, so I can’t be sure if they are foreign or native.

I also have some Japanese friends who post about their HSK test endeavours.
But yeah, “many” is subjective, my situation is that I look like I can speak Chinese, so naturally, I will be spoken to in Chinese.

I’m a bit short on time, so I’m just going to cherry-pick this one thing. Noun + する makes a ton of sense to me (as a native German and fluent English speaker). The nearest equivalent in English is “to do”, like in “doing homework”, “doing taxes”, “doing the dishes”, etc. It’s not one-to-one (e.g. the Japanese can サッカーする, but the English don’t “do football”, they “play football”) but a strong resemblance. In German, “machen” can play a similar role as a generic verbifying verb, like in “Hausaufgaben machen”, but it’s not as versatile as “to do”. In most cases, it follows its core meaning of “to build/craft/produce”.

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Isn’t that pretty similar to how we might say “Let’s go with tea” in English?

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Seeing the list of languages you speak in a comment below, I can’t tell what your native language is but I will say from the perspective of a native English speaker I find parts of Japanese difficult (mainly trying to understand more nuanced situations like when to use certain keigo) but as far as straight phonetics and learning to speak. I also find the grammar to be more or less straight forward depending on your sources (some I find way over-complicate things, and I highly recommend BunPro for the access to an array of materials also helps to focus more on straight acquisition rather than learning the language at first). Though will say, for me personally speaking and listening come easier than reading and writing, even to an extent in my own native language.

Honestly, I’ve found that trying to constantly keep track of adjective/ein words conjugation in German to be a lot more confusing, along with the Falschfreunden, so I’m jealous you’re able to retain that information let alone find it on the easier side of things haha.

I just watched a few Cure Dolly videos for the first time and while it’s great content-wise you’re absolutely right about the presentation. Something about that voice is soooo unsettling.

I think it would be a lot easier if you‘d stop comparing languages or searching for reasons. Just go with the flow and enjoy that you can express so many things with する and don’t have to learn hundreds of different verbs. :v::smile:
Why にする? I don’t know the exact reason but I think this is easy to memorize. You just use the allrounder する again and the に which is often used for directions in my mind is always like finger pointing towards what I want to choose.

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With Polish being my native language, I think that Japanese it’s a bit closer to it than to English (but of course still pretty distant). I’m always amused when I find some parallels in either language itself or surrounding culture.
For example (grammar) - in Polish we also often drop subjects, especially when it’s first or second person. The main difference is that our verbs conjugate by person (is that right expression? I’m not too good with english linguistic terms), so it’s more obvious who the subject is. But still - just like in Japanese, we also can have proper sentence using just a verb, especially in casual speech.
Also, I often stumble upon some idioms, sayings and expressions that seem to be closer to ours than to English counterparts.
I was pretty amused recently, when, while reading about お盆 I learned that in Japanese there’s that pair of expressions この世・あの世 - “this/that world” for describing our world and the afterlife, since it’s literally how it can be also described in Polish. We have expression “tamten świat” == literally “that world” == あの世 for afterlife, and we also have “przenieść się na tamten świat” expression for dying, which literally would translate to “move/go to that world”, almost identical to Japanese あの世に行く, with the difference that our verb would be closer to 引っ越す than 行く, but I find that negligible :wink:


It’s a bit like きれいにする isn’t it? You’re “doing toward” something - in this case, a state of cleanliness. With お茶にする you’re taking an “action” (with your will, not your body) that results in the state where you have tea.

The literal word-by-word translation is horribly unnatural English, but you can kind of see the logic in it.