Native Grammar Resources

Hi everyone.
For the last months I’ve been reading this all too basic review book about japanese grammar.

The book it’s a summary of basic topics about japanese grammar taught to kids during their 小学 years in preparation to taking the 中学 entry exam. So, yeah it doesn’t go very deep, but it keeps the language fairly simple.

In case you’re wondering, kids in Japan learn grammar in a very different way than how it’s taught to foreign students of japanese. Actually its even referred differently. 学校文法 it’s the way japanese grammar it’s taught to japanese kids and 日本語文法 it’s the name for how grammar it’s taught to foreigners.

They are different ways to explain grammar in it’s totality, not a mere translation. So there are concepts and way of seeing grammar from 日本語文法 that don’t have an equivalent to 学校文法, and of course the other way around. The “Te” form been one of those for example, there’s not such thing in 学校文法 (て been a particle) and the same is true for 助動詞 (auxiliary verbs) in 学校文法, which are explained in 日本語文法 as if they were conjugations of the verb and can result sometimes harder to grasp.

In my case I’m getting really interested in reading this 国語 textbooks, for one I’m finding it a more logical approach to grammar, I can actually use a dictionary to get better explanation and examples if I bump into any new set phrase. Besides you can later talk about grammar to japanese people in a familiar language to them and If should I decide later to learn a bit of classical japanese grammar it follows the same scheme and logic.

In any case I would like to know if people here has dug deeper into japanese grammar the way it would be taught in a 国語 class instead of the other way how commonly we see it presented in japanese learner’s textbooks . Any resources you can recommend?? :hugs:


Is that specific to elementary school students though, or does that carry more broadly through a students full education? Or put another way, is it a question of native vs. foreigner or is it more child vs. adult.

Trying to think back to English classes in early school grades, I’m sure both the verbiage and the level of abstraction used to describe language mechanics was different to what I was exposed to in high school. Probably would have been different yet if I’d done anything English-centric in higher education.

It would be interesting to see some examples of what these differences are, e.g. if we could find a grammar point both as its described to native and non-native learners.

1 Like

it’s exactly like that.

examples, well. The explanations are not neccesarily a translation (only, because of course japanese people are taught in japanese :smile: ), they just use diferent tools to explain grammar. Based on their own basis.

Though sometimes explanations in 日本語文法 seem an oversimplification, 'cause some of the basis aren’t there to start with. So a lot it’s stated as “set phrases” and nothing to back them.

for example the “explanation” on かもしれない

Tae Kim’s

And then in 大辞泉

So it mentions the “adverbial particle” か (the question about it…) , the “binding particle” も (it’s also that) and then the 知れない, becoming something like “there’s the question about and also it’s unknown” … so you have the explanation later: been an expression on something you can’t decide on, but there’s that possibility.

this way it is also easier to realize why it can be shortened to かも also (simply implying the last part)

(it could have been a terrible example :crazy_face:… I just dont’ do this often :sweat_smile: … but I hope I transmited some differences)

(anyway this is a set phrase, but there’re foundational differences with more basic concepts … though probably a better teacher than myself will be required for those explanations :bowing_man: )

Anyway, it’s easier for me to get the nuances and avoid to memorize exeptions and different uses for grammatical concepts, that are fairly obvious once you know the elements of the construct. japanese grammar has turned to be much logical than most ways I’ve seen written in my reference books (DOJG or the Handbook of Japanese Grammar patterns)

1 Like

I’ve been eyeing off the following book here:

Which seems to follow the same logic.

Fundamentally it seems to be an extremely good idea and more logical, but of course I can’t speak from experience, I’m in the same boat as you, interest peeked, but would like to hear from real experiences. ^ _ ^


Yeah. I’m aware of CureDolly’s material. I have the book too. :wink:
I’ve been following the yt series, but it doesn’t seem that her objective it’s going with 学校文法 from the start and on. Though she was the one that recommended the book I mentioned in the first post.

Sadly she doesn’t have any second recommendation for continuing after… hence the post :hugs:


Leebo made a video a while back that might have some books of interest to you:


Im going to venture a guess thats because if youre able to go through that book, youre kind of ready to learn through any native material.

Though you use Tae Kim as a counterexample, I would say Tae Kim for a lot of people would be the bridge or doorway to the more native approach. The “oversimplification” is almost a necessity to deter the learner from understanding it all in English and promote learning by examples. Imo someone equiped with Tae Kim + Kanji study (such as WK) would do well to use the book you posted to further their grammar study.

Reference books like DBJG help you learn about Japanese but become less useful when you actually want to learn Japanese.


I’ve finished the book, not without doubts though :sweat_smile:

To be fair It’s a fairly short book. 96 pages containing probably what’s taught in a period of 5-6 years (or at least part of the curriculum for 国語 during those years). So, even the same material explained more in depth would be ok… I mean kids continue to learn grammar during 中学 and 高校. So I was aiming to some series for those kids perhaps.

So far I’ve found this channel

I was thinking in something to maybe accompany this playlist :hugs:

And then doing something similar using the Kokokoza playlist.


Im not at that level yet so I havent look but knowing Japan Im sure there is something similar for middle school students. (Im definitely picking up this one in my next AmazonJP order)

I guess to be more specific I should say native study books and reference books like dictionarys.

1 Like

Middle school does basically expand and go more into depth on the main grammar you already mentioned, but in my experience high school grammar classes are more about classical Japanese.


Great! So maybe it’s just that I have the same blurred vision about grammar that any 小学 graduate has :sweat_smile::sweat_smile:

I’ll dig further into a 中学 textbook then :muscle::muscle:
Any recommedation?

@conan I watched the video, but no 国語 text was mentioned :sweat_smile:

Ah awesome! ^ _ ^


Actually now that I think about it, indeed the whole approach of CureDolly and the motto “what the textbooks don’t teach you” it’s just that, 学校文法 vs. 日本語文法.

Japanese trying to simplify their own language in order to make it more digestable to foreigners taste made this set of rules that indeed left some parts of it with the shadow of been arbitrary in places where it’s actually not. I wonder what’s the history behind that :thinking:


The thing is, native speakers study grammar long after they are fluent. The two systems don’t have the same purpose, which is why they frame things differently.

It would be a nightmare to try to learn Japanese school grammar as your first exposure to the language.

At the same time, an English textbook for second language learners will frame things differently from a linguistics paper by a native.


Yeah, it makes sense. I went through the explanation on what’s a 文 (sentence), 文節* (clause), 段落 (paragraph) and 文章 (composition) without gaining much additional understanding at all, though probably I had a similar class sometime in my L1.

I’m no super aware how english or spanish (L1) it’s taught to foreigners. I will imagine a similar distinction, though I would have guessed explanations for foreigners and natives will meet at somepoint (though again, I have no idea, perhaps this never happens in other languages as well). For japanese I haven’t notice that, specially later when a lot of set phrases and expressions constitute the largest part of grammar… and without further base feels very much like you have to memorize and see it put to use quickly in order to grasp the concept, lacking a better explanation to retain it and guess whatever different uses a gammatical concept may have.

*I fail yet to see the point in this term.

It’s one of the basic units between a word and a sentence… what kind of “point” are you looking for?

I’ve never really heard of second language learners of English doing the kind of sentence diagramming that I did in middle school.

1 Like

I can’t tell the need for it. I don’t think I can recall somehting like that in spanish anyway. And the rules to set appart the 文節 and its deffinition seems vague.

So, maybe If I had persued a more formal grammar education in english I would have met similar differences then. :sweat_smile:

Maybe youre looking for something more sophisticated but wont the crossover point just be when you go from being a learner of the language (using English/foreign material) to a user of the language (using Native material)?

1 Like

Isn’t a 文節 something like, for instance, 水を, a word and particle paired. It’s just another building block to the full sentence. And while there isn’t perfect unit to compare it with in English, English does have clauses, which are units between words and sentences.

While I typed (subordinate clause)
someone else replied (main clause)

And IIRC, things like the subject and object are identified at the 文節 level.


They tend to fall into that: a word and a particle, though サ変 verbs when conjugated usually fall into a 文節 as well.

Oh, that makes sense. Probably that 中学 textbook will help with it… the use of those doesn’t seem to be within the 小学生’s pay grade :joy:

Oh, no, not so sophisticated. Actually the 中学 level seems to fit the recommendation. It felt that at 小学生 level things still looked a bit blurred; now I know maybe its just expected (or maybe my current textbook was too flimsy to start with :sweat_smile:) , and further detail gets added afterwards, I will aim at that.

Though CureDolly’s series seems to aim at that in between step, of trying to translate some concepts explained by traditional grammar into english. :+1:

1 Like