Sentence patterns that are considered JLPT grammar

I’m learning grammar. I’m probably still in N5 or N4 and I think part of the reason why is because I keep making questions linguists would. For example, I was introduced to the “ni” particle over a year ago, yet I still focus on researching it because I still find it in different structures that would actually be covered in more advanced grammar.

Let’s focus on BunPro and JLPT-centric websites. I find weird that they teach me patterns, like “verb no ga suki”, because I can’t find those in Japanese dictionaries. For example, I searched “to sareru” on Google to find it accounted as N1 grammar, but dictionaries tell me it’s simply passive “to suru”. And I know that’s probably how Japanese native speakers understand the use of “to sareru” when it means that something “is considered”.

I’m getting nowhere with this, but I’m stressed out. I’m afraid that JLPT lessons, by teaching me sentence patterns as grammar, won’t lead me to understanding the language, but to composing structures through huge blocks of words, making them sound very basic. Also, I’m never sure whether JLPT will cover a given pattern or I should be joining the pieces to understand it on my own (if you know “to suru” and passive form, you could get to “to sareru”, right?).

I’m making no sense, I suppose, but are JLPT-centric websites actually the best for learning Japanese? I think I know the answer, but I just don’t feel confident in studying this way and that’s dragging me down…

The thing is I don’t think that I should be expecting direct translations like that, but deciphering things by myself instead. That’s all. In other words, I feel that I only couldn’t understand the meaning of “to sareru” because I’m missing understanding on the word “to suru” already, and then I don’t know what I should do to understand it (and then I start making myself questions in linguistics).

(What should even be the title?)

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No, I wouldn’t think that they are. Especially not Bunpro, which is better fit for reviewing grammar points. Get a textbook which goes through the grammar more thoroughly. 「動詞」の creates a noun, so it makes sense that you can say 「動詞」のが好き. A good textbook would tell you this, whereas a website like Bunpro might not. Besides, you’re not going to understand the grammar by reading about it, and by learning about basic as well as advanced uses of に at the same time you’re only making it harder for yourself. If you’re at N4 already then Tobira and Shinkanzen Master are both good books. Now, the latter is focused on JLPT, but the content is good and together with the 聴解 and 読解 books it’s a well fleshed out program. You don’t need to follow the JLPT levels, just follow something which gives detailed explanation of grammar points at your level of understanding, then practice that by reading and writing until you fully understand it.


To be fair BunPro has a lesson on using の as a nominalizer 7 lessons before teaching のが好き but I can see a lot of people struggling to connect both, I myself did at first. But I agree that that site should be used more for reviews. One of the best aspects of BunPro in my opinion is how they link to external sources that explain each grammar point in detail. It’s very helpful, though a lot of people, myself included sometimes, neglect to fully read and understand grammar points fully before adding it to reviews.

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とする is not beginner grammar, even though と and する are basic. Thus, it stands to reason that とされる will also not appear on early JLPT levels.

Many things that are considered high level grammar are just that way because they are stiffer, more literary, more formal, etc. Not necessarily because they are actually harder to grasp. In fact, many N1 grammar points are easy because they are so narrow in focus. The low level grammar points you mentioned, which have many facets, are the things people struggle with for their Japanese studying lives.

I think you’re just feeling overwhelmed, and that happens to everyone now and then. Take a breather now and then, and just try to accept that there’s a lot to absorb.


Not 100% sure how to untangle your problem, but you should see JLPT mainly as a test, not a teaching concept. It restricts the possible problems that you will need to solve to levels. What it doesn’t do is to interconnect related grammar concepts, as you say they are just “random” collections of grammar points.

Are you using a text book like Genki? After you have the basics down you can start reading and look up the grammar points as you need them, even if they are N1. You will need them eventually anyway if you want to reach a good understanding of Japanese.

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True! I think that was a bad example. Maybe “te-form wa naranai” is a better choice. I didn’t search it in-depth, but I expect to see it defined as simply “must not” while it raises a lot of questions: for example, if te-form is preceding the “wa” particle, does that mean that verbs in te-form function as nouns? Doesn’t “te-form wa” have a distinct meaning on its own, like “te-form mo”? In any case, am I supposed to know that?

I think my text was confusing and so is this comment, so let me try again: my anxiety comes from not knowing whether the website is incomplete or I shouldn’t be worrying about certain things yet. Probably as @acm2010 put, what I want is for related grammar concepts to be interconnected.

Having said that, even I’m not sure what’s stressing me out or what could solve this, so @Leebo must be right. I’m just overwhelmed and scared that I’m missing information because I’m not using the best resources (now answering @acm2010, I don’t have any textbooks).

I hadn’t really thought of not following JLPT levels, for some reason. So thanks everyone!

Yeah, I definitely get what you mean. I myself struggled with てはならない a bit and I wondered the same things. Since I don’t feel ready to actually use it in a sentence I didn’t go in-depth yet, but my approach is this cases is usually crowdsourcing, as in I go to one of my Discord servers for Japanese and ask some of the more experienced learners or teachers available. The trick is that you have to wonder about those things in the first place and we don’t always do. But usually those doubts emerge as we immerse in the language (picture naked Archimedes going into the bathtub).

So to me, the best combo to learn grammar is an structured system (classes, textbook, etc), a review system (homework, SRS, drills, etc) and contact with live language (conversation, reading, watching videos, etc). I think everyone needs the three aspects covered to fully learn.

I can recommend the Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar (there are also Intermediate and Advanced ones) to you, I think it is very good to look up things like that.

It lists -wa ikenai (-wa naranai as a stronger version) as a phrase of the form Vte wa naranai. I think interpreting は there as the topic particle is misleading you; phrases don’t necessarily need a grammatical reason. I would say your main verb in such a sentence is in connective te-form, and you append はならない like you would ください.

te mo is quite different, it is a conjunction (to connect a dependent clause that states your concern). You can even do 静かでも (even if s.t. is quiet) or 先生でも (even if s.o. is a teacher) [で is the te-form for na-adjectives and だ.]

But does that information really change anything? It is just important that you understand something when you see it. Just learning the rule first is sufficient, you can worry about even more general connections once you can easily apply the basics.


If you like thinking about grammar points, as you say, “as linguists would”, then it sounds like that’s part of what makes it fun for you, so go ahead and worry about it all you like. I’m in the same boat; I wanna know how expressions make sense on a formal grammatical level as much as I wanna know when they do or don’t feel natural to use.

As for 〜てはならない I personally found that I got a lot more comfortable with the て form when I realized it’s just basically always a plain old adverb, but also that adverbs can serve the same functions as nouns in surprisingly many ways. Like, they can take the topic particle to indicate contrast (example with a diff sort of adverb: 寂しくはない “i’m not (exactly) lonely”, or 怖くもない “i’m not (even) scared”), or connect to nouns using の (ex. 初めてのキス “first kiss”, or a diff sort of adverb: あなたへのおすすめ “recommendations for you”).


I completely understand the drive to break down grammatical patterns linguistically. But I think a very important point to keep in mind is that the rules of grammar as presented in textbooks are tools that are used to attempt to explain a language that already exists. They are not tools for constructing the language. So it’s very easy to a language student to try studying grammar and then tie him or herself into knots trying to make logical sense of it, when in fact there may be no real logic.

For example, in English we have the verb “to run”. You can say, “I love running.” Or, “I love to run.” Flip it around and you can say, “Running is something I love.” But you can’t (naturally) say, “To run is something I love.” Now I’m sure there are dictionaries of grammar that could attempt to explain why one form is correct and the other isn’t. But I think the better approach is to learn which one sounds right and which one doesn’t. And that can best be learned by consuming a lot of native speech and writing, and hopefully interacting with others and getting some degree of correction in the way you speak and write.

So I’ve got absolutely nothing against studying grammar. I like it too, and I think it’s an important tool for the language learner. But recognize that it can’t explain everything about how a language is used. Because sometimes things just are what they are.


I’ve had 4 years of formal Japanese classes and a year of self study and I don’t think I’ve ever been introduced to とされる in any of the various textbooks I’ve used. I think you’re getting ahead of yourself (we’re probably all guilty of that :joy:)

I think that you should probably invest in a textbook such as Genki, Minna no Nihongo, or even just Tae Kim’s free online grammar guide, and try to go through things in a natural order instead of focusing on the JLPT order of things.

I also have the same tendency to want to look ahead and learn everything all at once, but in my experience I learn more and easier if I actually RESTRICT myself to what I’m learning with my grammar textbook. It’s kind of similar to how WaniKani won’t let you do every lesson all at once; you have to “unlock” your understanding of する and basic grammar first before you can move on to とする and とされる which are more complex grammar forms.

I hope this helps! :durtle_hello:


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