Looking for grammar textbook recommendations!

After struggling with BunPro and not having the attention span for long reading without exercises to puzzle out on online resources, I’ve finally decided to buy a textbook to help me with my grammar. I’ve researched it a bit and I’ve heard around that the Shin Kanzen Master Bunpou books are pretty great, with a lot of exercises.

I found it being sold here for about 1,000 Philippine Pesos (about $20 USD) and I’m trying to decide if it’s worth the investment. I make very little on my salary as an English teacher in a developing country, so I really want to be sure I’m making the right decision. Has anyone else used these books here, and can you tell me about your experience? Or do you have any other recommendations for a book that you swear by? Preferably with exercises!


I’ve actually been using the Shin Kanzen Master (N4 - Reading Comprehension), and I’m really liking it so far. Great exercises to train my reading capabilities. I can’t comment on the other Kanzen books, since my priority is reading and I get my grammar from BunPro. I’ve used Tae Kim’s book, but it lacks exercises.

Have you tried JapaneseTest4You or NihongoPro (Freebies section)? Both of these feature tons of exercises, albeit in multiple-choice format, but nonetheless very useful to practice.


What level are you looking for?

TaeKim is free and is an easy read compared to most traditional textbooks. The iphone app has exercises for a lot of the essential grammar section, not sure about android.

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I have been going to Tae Kim for any specific grammar points I needed more clarity on. His explanations are really helpful.

I haven’t heard of the other two yet, though! Thank you for your suggestions.

I would recommend against Shin Kanzen Master as a primary/first grammar source. I’m using the N4 book right now, but while it is working fine as a refresher, the explanations are completing lacking. I feel like if I didn’t already know most of the grammar points I’d be completely lost. I got the N3 book as well, but I’m planning to use it only after using Tobira.

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I’m looking for N4-N3. While I think I have most of N4 down, I want to be able to practice it as a review. Being able to use it in exercises really helps me lock it down in my memory. I’m just starting to get into N3 grammar, so any recommendations for starting that?

I see… Thanks for the warning! Sorry, I’ve never heard of Tobira before. I googled it and only found a history book. Can you link me to the one you’re using/proved information about your experience with it? Thank you!

I haven’t started using Tobira yet, so I can’t say personally if it’s any good. Many people recommend it as a good textbook to use after Genki I and II (which I didn’t actually use myself).

Here’s the one I bought:

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Tae Kim is pretty good. In my opinion, imabi.net is also a great resource (also free and online). It goes into a lot more detail on absolutely each grammar point, so I find it great on that front (but on the other hand it might seem overwhelming to beginners). Just try to see if it’s something you might be interested in, if it seems too wordy, go for Tae Kim instead.

I tried Genki and really dislike it, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. I quite liked Japanese for busy people, I’m currently going through the second volume and I think it’s a really good resource.

I just completed Genki I & II and I absolutely loved them, the difference between JFBP and Genki is simply that Genki is aimed for students and JFBP is aimed more for working adults, so the scenarios and the vocabulary you learn are different.
I believe Genki has a bit more content though, but both books are great.

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I don’t know what is N4 exactly, but did you try minna no nihongo ?
Everything is written in japanese, and you learn things as they are presented.
It can will force you to think in Japanese in your head, which is a good exercise for your brain.

If you are into books you should all look into Nihongo soumatome by Ask Publishing 日本語総まとめ They are geared towards the JLPT tests and there are books for each level.

I was never liking the Genki books when I found them and it was the above book here that got me through the JLPT tests. They even have example audio test questions to practice as well.

The books are designed in such a way that it really makes you think and start to understand opposed to being told.

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