Slowly starting with Grammar. Tips and General Advise

Hello everyone!!

So, I’m currently lvl 46, planning to hit that sweet sweet lvl60 in a few months, so I thought now it’s a good time to start with grammar. (Yes, yes, I know I should have started earlier :pensive: )

So I’ve been trying to look for a few resources to help me get started. I used the The Ultimate Additional Japanese Resources List to gather some info, but it gets chaotic!

So far what stood out for me are:
Books:

  1. All 3 books from the A Dictionary Of * Japanese Grammar (but they are after all a dictionary)
  2. The Genki books (Which look okay I guess, though I don’t think they delve too deep into grammar)
  3. The Japanese for Dummies (Which looks pretty nice)

Sites:

  1. Tae Kim’s Guide to Learning Japanese ( Looks great)
  2. Pomax’s Japanese guide (Also look great)
  3. Imabi (Again great)
  4. Wasabi (Looks lovely)
  5. Bunpro (But it’s paid)
  6. EtoEto (But I won’t be alive when it releases)

I kind of feel lost with so many out there to choose, so anyone can suggest an order to start?
I was thinking maybe go for Genki or Japanese for Dummies, then jump either to Tae Kim or any of the others. Bunpro feels like a great option, but I currently lack the funds I’m afraid.

Here is a list of things people below commented and I liked:

  1. MegaZeroX post right below this post. Amazing Piece of advise for those looking how to start with grammar.
  2. Japanese Ammo with Misa
  3. Nihongonomori
  4. Sambon Juku

First update on how I started

  1. I registered on Bunpro. First month is free for the full package, so hopefully I manage to finish N5 and N4.
  2. I also started reading grammar on Wasabi, on the Wasabi’s Online Grammar Reference

Note that I have time in my hands else I would probably only go with Wasabi first, before trying Bunpro. If you don’t plan to buy Bunpro immediately, then postpone making an account so you can get the most out of the free month.

Next steps? I will probably finish a good read of Wasabi, then casually read the 2 Genki books for some extra info they provide. Then like MegaZero suggested, I will start with DoJG books together with either Podmax or Imabi. But this will take a while, so I will update this accordingly.

Hope it helps some people out there!

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My opinion on those things in order:

Books:

  1. I super highly recommend the Dictionaries of Japanese Grammar, as they have some pretty fantastic explanations of grammar points that often beats what you will find online. They aren’t always better (there are some colloquial uses better covered online), but its always worth checking when you find a new grammar point.

  2. The Genki books are good at being an integrated beginners book, but given you will already have a supersized vocabulary anyways, its probably not necessary unless you really want to drill the grammar with the workbook. Particularly since the bias of intro textbooks towards more touristy people leads to glancing over a lot of important topics that you will have to patch up with other resources later on.

  3. I don’t know anything about Japanese for Dummies.

Sites:

  1. I personally advise against Tae Kim’s guide, since it has frequent errors, and can often be hard to understand in spite of that (the は and が part is one of the first, and also one of the worst, which is terrible given how vital it is).

  2. I love Pomax’s guide for its explanation for the etymology of a lot of Japanese grammar stuff. The biggest problem though is that it can be very dense with linguistic terminology that goes right over my head. I definitely recommend using it at least as a secondary resource for verb conjugation, which it handles better than anything else I’ve seen IMO.

  3. Imabi is also great, but can also be dense. It tends to take the approach of “teach the grammar point by giving 10 million examples” so tailor your explanations based on that. It probably has the most in depth explanations for a lot of grammar points on the internet, but can still fall short of the DoJG series. Sometimes it covers stuff that the DoJG series misses.

  4. Wasabi is the better cousin to Tae Kim’s IMO, since I don’t think I’ve seen it be as egreiously wrong. It may be good to use this to get your grammar to a sufficient level that using the other sources isn’t as intimidating/using stuff you don’t yet know.

  5. Bunpro is paid, but you only pay for the SRS. So you can just use it’s grammar order and links to pair with the DoJG books. Its also super cheap (3 dollars a month). AND it has like a month free trial, and they don’t even auto charge you at the end of it IIRC. The earliest part will probably be a little rough though if you don’t have at least some basics already though. I’ve primarily been using this along with the DoJG books, and going to the Maggie Sensei links if they are availbable which usually has colloquial stuff not in the other places.

  6. I bet it will be great when it releases in year 4242.

So my recommendation would probably be:

  1. Get through the very basics on Wasabi to always get the basic grammar usage other resources.
  2. Buy the DoJG books
  3. Go through BunPro with DoJG books (remember, you can do this part for free, just the SRS is paid). Follow the links for MaggieSensei when available and for things not covered by the books (usually the bare essential stuff early on). Note that the DoJG reference pages are often missing, so look up the grammar point in the index for yourself.
  4. Look at Pomax’s verb conjugation stuff as appropriate and wonder why this intuition isn’t given anywhere else.

One final thing I would like to note: If you have been doing just WaniKani, you will also be missing a lot of kana only words, which you will need to pick up from elsewhere. I’d recommend doing Torii on WaniKani mode to pick up these words along with some other words WK doesn’t cover. Feel free to do it at whatever pace you are comfortable with obviously.

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I’m actually also doing a bit of grammar reading at the moment, so I’m super thankful for all those evaluations you took time to write down. I’ll be sure to check out Wasabi for starters! :slight_smile:

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MegaZero I have to admit, I can’t thank you enough! I wasn’t expecting a such a clear and amazing piece of advise!
The only thing that worried me was that the DoJG books didn’t offer a proper line of studying, like verb conjugation and so on. From a sample I saw, it has stuff in alphabetical order and explains what it is and how it works!

But following your advise, I have to say I feel confident now!
Also a big thank you for the Torii app! I had no idea about it or any other similar app! I mostly relied on WaniKani for my vocabulary words!

One question I have, you think Torii + WaniKani are sufficient for deep delve into vocab?

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For the DoJG, I mainly recommend for use in conjunction with Bunpro, or any other source, to get a lot of the “details” of the use, along with some more examples. It may be tricky to use until you are around N5ish though, since the examples will regularly use a lot N5 grammar for any point (hence the recommendation for building a foundation with something like Wasabi).

The vocab from both will get you a vocab of around 12Kish words. Its worth noting that Torii pulls from the core 10k which pulls from newspapers, which biases the words you find to be from that sort of context. Still, most of it is common regardless, and what isn’t tends to be vocabulary you want to learn anyways if you want to ever engage with Japanese news.

There will still be words that you don’t know obviously, but they will mostly be domain specific stuff that you will learn with the genre. For example, if you learned the same vocabulary learning for English, and began reading fantasy stuff, there will be words like “spellcasting,” “summoning circle,” “sorcery,” and so on, that you would have to learn then. Or for a Japanese example, if you read a Mahjong story like Saki or Akira, you would need to look up things like 麻雀, 麻雀打ち, 嶺上開花, and so on.

The final vocabulary caveat is that words often have more idiomatic uses that you’ll need to learn by seeing and/or seeing a dictionary list of uses. This is especially true for more common words. For a more extreme example, あがる has 26 listed uses (although they are split into 3 written forms).

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I see! Once again, many thanks for the explanation! You had me at “spellcasting,” “summoning circle,” “sorcery,” :smiley:

I feel like a mountain has risen before me, but with your advise the ride should be smoother!

One final question if I may! I have downloaded Torii. What is the best option to pick in Study Mode?
WaniKani mode should be the one to go if I don’t want to repeat what I’ve already learnt in WK, correct? I won’t be missing anything the 10k has to offer?

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Right. WaniKani mode will just not cover whats already covered in WaniKani, and will order the rest based WaniKani Kanji order. You’ll get lessons in batches of 5, with 2 kana specific words, and 3 kanji words. The kana words will go from N5 to N1, followed by ones that aren’t on any of them. The kanji words will go in order from using only level 1 kanji and before, to only level 2 kanji and before, and so on, until you get to the point where it eventually uses kanji not covered on WK. For each WK level grouping, it goes in the same N5 to N1 to other word order.

Note that in the options, you can set how many lessons you want to allow per day, from 5 to 50. I have been doing 20 personally, but set it to whatever you can balance correctly! Also note that for the kana words, some of them you will have seen previously on WaniKani, but with their obscure kanji usage. If Torii gives you a kana version of it, that is usually the more common way to see it. For example, you’ll see つける covered, despite the fact that you learned 点ける on WK. It just happens that the kana version is much more common,

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That’s amazing!! I guess I’m ready to start :muscle:
On a side note, I just realized I dont remember the reading of 点ける but oh well. I’ll start with learning new ones and then I guess can change modes!

Really, I can’t thank you enough! You saved me tons of time going through guides and reading material that probably wouldn’t help me that much!

I would strongly recommend you writing a guide on how to start and what to do! Your explanations are thorough and to the point and many people would love it. I don’t have a teacher, so there are times where I feel lost on what to study and where to proceed. If you made one, you would help many of us who feel the same!! Just think about it!

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I have considered doing this, but I wanted to wait until I was further along with Japanese, as I have thought about bundling it with a grammar guide of my own from all that I’ve seen, but I don’t want to try until I’m further along with grammar so I can make sure everything I do would be accurate.

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I totally respect that! Shows commitment!! And like I said, I think you will do a great job!

I hope nobody will bring the pitchforks out for saying this, but I think Cure Dolly’s “Organic Japanese” youtube playlist is very helpful at learning the structure of Japanese grammar in an easy way.

Tae Kim was one of the first places I found when learning grammar, since it’s one of the only free resources out there. I wouldn’t say it’s bad, but there are problems as people pointed out. It still did teach me a few things. Tae Kim’s guide is an OK reference for when I want to check up on something I forgot.

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Just get a Japanese girlfriend or boyfriend. Nothing teaches you Japanese faster than arguing with your partner. :man_shrugging:

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I always thought CD was well received here! It should be because it’s wonderful.

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I guess I can raise my hand as a member of the “not a Cure Dolly fan” crew. I don’t think it’s necessary to even bring up the voice at this point, but I also find the framing of certain things to be off-putting (e.g. “there’s no such thing as transitive and intransitive verbs in Japanese”). I can’t enjoy watching the channel.

I guess people might ask what I recommend then. On Youtube, I enjoy Nihongonomori and Sambonjuku.

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Or ‘there’s no such thing as conjugation’ except that she then shows you conjugation. Conjugate as defined by OED is:

to give the different forms of a verb, as they vary according to number, person, tense, etc.

Not sure how you can tell me there’s no conjugation when her own videos show the different forms of a verb based on tense, etc.

I’m honestly not sure why she argues this one so hard and views it as some major hill to die on.

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I haven’t seen that one specifically… but as with all of these, I think there are grains of truth and she’s trying to share insights with people about how something work.

Like, for instance, from a native perspective, there is no such thing as the て form. We often call the て form a conjugation of a verb. In the native grammar framework, て is actually an auxiliary that is appended to continuative form of a verb. And thinking about て in this way could be enlightening.

But… how did the verb get into the continuative form? Why it conjugated into that form of course! And the Japanese grammar explanations will say as much.

So… it feels like kind of a “clickbaitification” of Japanese grammar topics to me.

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Yeah like you mention, the grains of truth get drowned in the clickbait. But here’s the video just for reference.

And it’s description starts with:

“Japanese conjugation” is a myth.

Now the part where she explains that conjugation can often be taught using a simpler method than some resources teach is true, but that could be accomplished without the hyperbole. :man_shrugging:

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Yeah, this is what I was talking about with the off-putting frameworks. Basically, whenever she says something is a myth, you can take that to mean that natives learn a different way of thinking about this than non-natives do. And the implication is that the native way is somehow better.

It’s not hard to come up with a Cure Dolly video concept (apologies if she already did this haha)

You take something that non-natives are familiar with… let’s say Hepburn romanization. And then you introduce something they aren’t familiar with, like Kunrei-shiki romanization. Then you give the impression that the thing you haven’t been exposed to is a “secret” that has been kept from you. And just ignore that the two schemes have different uses and purposes.

Boom! You haven’t been taught the right romaji!!!1!

But I guess I don’t want to turn this into a Cure Dolly bashing session, so I’ll leave it at that.

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I think you guys have some great points and I agree with them. But, like I said in a previous thread, there really isn’t another resource out there in English that does the same thing. I’ve been able to follow along with some native material recently but there’s a gap there where CD is the only resource I know that presents the material this way. If there’s another one, I’d love to see it.

It’s definitely clickbaity and hyperbolic, but I’ve gained insights from the content that I had been struggling with for a long time. And I think the people who are a fan of her method are the same way.

And the people on this forum are pretty savvy, so it’s not just that we’re falling for the social engineering. The content is good enough that we continue to watch the videos.

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I made some of those points too. It only came up because I think @zyoeru wasn’t aware there was a non-fan contingency.

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