Question on being able to hear verbs / short words

So I’m learning about 20 vocab words a day (I’m up to about 600 vocab words now), and I can recall probably about half from memory going from English to Japanese. Right now my studying revolves around vocab and just active listening, so I’ll spend the rest of my time after I’m done with my reviews and lessons on active listening (with no subtitles). I also started learning vocab about a month ago and I started active listening two months ago. I’ve also only just started learning Japanese, so I’m like only 4 days away from hitting the 3-month mark of my journey.

I know I’m only just getting started, and I only have about 125 hours of active listening, but my question is how long does it take to start being able to hear the verbs such as “go”, “eat”, “talk”, “speak”, “read”, “come”, consistently? So basically verbs that are short like "読む”、”来る”, etc. Just so you know, I’m not impatient at all here, I know Japanese is a long process. The reason why I’m asking is because I know all these words and I rarely ever hear them. Occasionally I do though, but it’s most often I don’t. Whenever I look to see if I heard a word correctly, which is typically a noun or an adjective, I sometimes see one or two other words in there that I hadn’t heard but I know.

Anyways, just curious what people have to say about this and how long it may take, how their process went with this, etc. My assumption is that I just require a lot larger word bank for me to start filling in the blanks to help me hear these sounds since a lot of them are short and some sound the same.



The dictionary form of a verb isn’t necessarily going to be commonly heard. Often it’s going to be conjugated or combined with another verb.

I’m not sure if that was kind of what you were getting at, but instead of 読む, you might hear 読んで, or 読まれた, or 読みました, etc.


Yeah that’s what I mean.

I know that this is the case, which is my question basically, like how long does it take to be able to start hearing that or understanding that? Is it just building up a larger vocab bank so I can better fill in the blanks and understand better what’s going on?

I don’t think anyone can give you a specific, objective answer. It’s gonna be highly dependent on how much listening practice and conversing you do.


So you would say it’s more dependent on how much listening I’m getting in rather than how much vocab I know? Or is it a mix of both. I’ve been considering adding in more listening hours a day, which I’m at 2 hours right now.

1 Like

What kind of stuff are you listening to?

Right now I’m watching visual stuff that I enjoy, since I don’t understand too much right now. This makes doing it a lot easier because I’m tuned in with what I’m watching. So at the moment I’m only watching anime, but I’m definetly open to more suggestions. I’ve also found 24/7 news on youtube that I occassionally look at, but it’s harder for me to stay focused.

I don’t think you need a huge breath of vocab to start picking it up. Maybe look into It uses 1000s bite-size clips from a variety or sources (anime, movies, dramas, etc.) for active-listening study.


Cool thank you, I’ll check that out.

I have been studying Japanese for over a year… My kanji sucks so that’s why I am going back through using wanikani. Anyways, from my personal experience it took almost a whole year before I could sit through a Japanese TV show for example and be able to actively pick up all the words. I still to this day rarley get everything in one go around and have to ethier rewind multiple times or go on my gut.

Eventually you will start cherry picking words and those words that do get through will give you enough of a sense of the conversation to make a translation without having fully heard everything if that makes any sense.

Also keep in mind if you don’t know the Grammer you will have a very hard time grasping anything you hear.

Reading is a whole different story and imo is a much better place for new learner’s to start.


Sounds like it’s time for you to start studying conjugations/inflections alongside with vocabulary :slight_smile:


Like others said, it’ll be easier to hear the words when you’ve studied how they’re used in sentences :slight_smile: Otherwise it’s like having the puzzle pieces and not knowing where they fit.
I don’t know if you’ve started on grammar, but that’ll be the glue that’ll hold the words together, and you’ll gradually be able to pick out words you know (even if you can’t yet understand long sentences as a whole).

(Oops just realized I replied directly to you @konekush :sweat_smile:)


(Your payment for the blunder will be friendship. No takebacksies!)


Like @Leebo and @skymaiden mentioned already, your listening comprehension is a question of not only vocabulary, but also grammar.
To be most effective your listening material should ideally match your vocab, your grammar and your phonetics too.
Re grammar: various forms of verbs plus so to say “technical structures” where いく/くる for ex lose their direct meaning and become a grammar function.
Re phonetics: there is a number of sounds in Japanese that may not be mapped vs the sound system of your native language so your listening will “skip” them for a while (sort of).

In short, your recognition would depend upon how well your material matches what you know at the moment.


Yeah, learning some grammar helps. I also listen to TV Japan a lot. I’m starting to understand a lot of the children’s programming. One night I actually understood quite a bit of a program on earthquake safety (on a regular program). But the visuals helped with that, too. For me, understanding is coming slowly, but steadily. But I’ve been listening for almost a year and a half. It does take time.


As others have said, grammar’s really important here. Possibly more important than vocab, honestly. For me, I recognize the verb from the conjugation more than the verb itself. Because Japanese conjugation is so regular, catching those is much easier for me, and give me a lot to go on for decoding what the sentence is about, even if I don’t (and I probably don’t) know the specific verb. Given context I can work backwards from that and get the gist.

Similarly, I find I can pick out the phrases and particles and build up the shape of the sentence even if the vocabulary is still gibberish to me. And a lot of it is. I don’t have much more vocabulary than you at this point. But I find I can make a lot of guesses, sometimes even correct ones, from the structure. Kind of like if you use nonsense words in a Mad-libs, even though those words are meaningless, you can build a pretty good picture from what’s left and often figure out what word the Mad-lib author dropped in the first place.

1 Like

I’m learning vocab in sentences. I don’t learn individual vocab, because learning in sentences is so much easier.

With highly inflectional languages like Japanese, at some point you do need to learn inflections and conjugations out of context.


The thing about grammar is that I absolutely cannot learn it if I don’t have the vocab to do so. That’s why I’ve put it off and haven’t gone over it yet. If I don’t understand every word in a sentence, and I’m trying to learn the grammar, then I’m not learning grammar. I’m learning the words in the sentence. That’s just how it goes for me. Anyways this has all been pretty helpful, thanks everyone.

1 Like

That’s great! You’ll probably see some inflections in your example sentences.
Then with grammar study (doesn’t have to be formal but logically structured helps), you’ll learn more ways the same words can be conjugated and used in different contexts :blush:

As long as you’re “hearing” the words when you read them (either with actual audio or just with your internal reading voice), you’ll start hearing separate words soon.

1 Like