Teasing Master Takagi-san 😝 ・ Absolute Beginners Book Club ・ Starting May 1st!

When we start reading next month, chances are you’ll encounter content that’s covered in the videos you’ve seen, and…you won’t recognize them at all. But what happens next is where the magic starts. Either you’ll ask, or some else will ask, for help on breaking down that sentence. “I know all the words, but I can’t figure out what they mean.” Then a reply will be received with some grammar information to help tie the words together, and that’s where you may think, “Wait, this seems familiar.”

Those who’ve seen enough of my posts are probably tired of seeing me write “pattern matching, pattern matching”, but the brain is a pattern matching machine. (Not a very good one, but that’s beside the point.) Through the volume, you’ll encounter the same grammar over and over, and your brain will start to recognize it. Maybe not from reading (as you may not the vocabulary words very well), but rather by seeing it come up again and again in the discussion.

Then, after reading the volume (or even at any time during), if you decided to re-watch a Cure Dolly video on that content, it should seem much more familiar, and maybe even more memorable.

I’m painting a overly optimistic picture, so don’t worry if it doesn’t come to you quite that fast. When I read through volume one of ごちうさ, I looked up every word and every bit of grammar, a process that spanned several months. Next, I read through volume one of しろくま with the book club here, and I felt like I hardly knew anything. I think it wasn’t until later in that year that I started watching Cure Dolly, so I’d already had some (meager) reading experience.

(Sorry if that was way too wordy…)

Learning the different forms of adjectives took me way longer than I’d care to admit. It’s like I had this blind spot where even though I was looking up sample sentences and writing them 20 times each, multiple days per week, if I stopped for a month I’d completely forget everything I knew about the different forms for adjectives.

I have no explanation for why it was so difficult for me, but I will say this: if anything comes as being too difficult to grasp, don’t worry too much about it. You have so much grammar waiting to be learned to let any specific grammar slow you down for too long. If you keep up reading, you will encounter the grammar again and again. So long as you occasionally look them up to ensure you understand it, pattern matching will slowly kick in. (It just takes longer for some of me us than others…)

It might not get easier right away, but over time you’ll start to get a feel for it. だ comes after a noun, and だ is used for the past-tense of verbs that normally end in a " (such as ぐ).

Once you have a good grasp of は and the topic-comment structure used in Japanese, and the logical particles (such as が, を, で, に, and へ), that’ll make it easier to use a little detective work on simple sentences to deduce the meaning.

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I’m here to do the same, lurk and follow along! Absolute beginners unite! :grinning:

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I’ve been wanikaniing since 2017, I’ve reset twice and have only just made it to almost level 8 (middle aged and very busy, it is what it is), but I’m finding the sample sentences are beginning to coalesce into some sort of sense so I want to try reading a bit at last. I lived in Japan for a few years a while ago and although I didn’t really formally study at the time, I met a some grammar in the wild.

I’m hoping this will be “fun” :wink: and a change it from just kanji every day, but realistically I won’t be able to give it the time and attention it requires, so I’ll no doubt end up popping in and out and picking up what I can. The Cure Dolly videos are a great (if slightly creepy) resource, thanks for the tip!

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See, this is really comforting, I feel like this describes exactly how I learn.
I’ll read a point in Genki or watch a Cure Dolly video and be nodding along, maybe even do some exercises, at first feeling pretty confident and comfortable. Then time passes and I’ll see something in the wild and my brain confidently comes up blank. I dig into the point and try to break it down, and eventually discover it is exactly the thing I learned previously. After this process (possibly repeating a few times >.>) I will actually learn a point.

It is helpful to know it isn’t just me!

No, THANK YOU for being so detailed, it is honestly comforting / inspiring =D

Yeeaapp. That is where I’m at now, a few weeks ago I was in confident-town, and it seems I haven’t had enough exposure since then for it to stick. My current hope is that those brain cells are still hanging around just waiting to be re-activated.

In hindsight this is so obvious, but yet it still keeps getting me, hopefully this time it will stick!

Ohh I hadn’t made that connection, thanks for spelling it out.

I love Cure Dolly’s detective work videos.
I think I understand the basic (single-kana) particles okay-ish, but it seems there are a bunch of more complex words that act/behave like particles (not sure on their technical names).
Examples from memory would be things like 〜そう、 〜から、 and 〜なら。
(I am hoping it will just be a matter of exposure / time).

Hmmm I don’t think I’ve heard that phrase before.

Thank you so much for your time :slight_smile:

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A lot of these were difficult for me to remember and really understand before I started reading, reading, reading.

Some related reading:

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I felt like writing something grammary today, so here’s something that took me a bit of time to grasp properly in my earlier grammar-learning days. I’ve written it in a way that hopefully makes it easier for others to learn than it was for me.

Reasoning with のだ

One of the trickier Japanese grammar structures for English natives to get used to is のだ.

Consider the following observations:

  • The streets are wet.
  • The package that was left on my doorstep is not there.
  • Five new lessons came up for me in WaniKani.

These are incomplete observations. We have observed the effect, but we do not know the cause.

Since the cause is unknown, we are left to reason what the cause is likely to have been.

  • It must have rained. (That’s why the streets are wet.)
  • Kouichi must have swiped another one of my packages. (That’s why the package is missing from my doorstep.)
  • I must have I Guru’d a kanji in my last review session. (That’s why five new lessons came up.)

This type of reasoning (known in English as abductive reasoning) is where you work out the reason (cause) for your observation (result). Note that these reasons may not necessarily be correct. Perhaps a street sweeper washed the streets, maybe I had my package sent to the wrong address, and it could be that the WaniKani staff just shifted some vocabulary to a lower level.

In English, there isn’t anything built in to the grammar to denote this kind of reasoning. In Japanese, there is.

  • “It rainedのだ.”
  • “Kouichi swiped my packageのだ.”
  • “I Guru’d a kanjiのだ.”

This reasoning is intended to explain the cause for what we’ve observed. Thus, you’ll see this grammar referred to as “the explanatory の”.

Note that のだ may appear as んだ or simply の. When following a noun+だ, the だ becomes な. This results in noun+なのだ and noun+なんだ, as well as noun+なの. This may also appear as なんだ, or simple as なの (at the end of a sentence).

Structurally, what’s happening is the sentence is being turned into a noun phrase with の, then だ is added to turn it into a noun sentence: “It is (that) [phrase].” A close approximation in English is to say “It’s because [phrase]”:

  • “The streets are wet. It’s because it must have rained.”
  • “The package that was left on my doorstep is not there. It’s because Kouichi must have swiped it. (Again…)”
  • “Five new lessons came up in WaniKani. It’s because I must have guru’d a kanji.”

It’s also used when you have the complete observation (you know the cause/reason), and you are informing someone who has an incomplete observation:

  • “(The streets are wet) [because] there was a flood.”
  • “(Your package is missing) [because] a bobcat took it.”

The explanatory の can also be asked as a question: “Is it that [phrase]?” “Is it because [phrase]?”

からかい上手の高木さん Example

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Takagi says “Lend me your eraser. I forgot mineの.”

From the classmate’s perspective, he observes that Takagi is asking to borrow his eraser, but he doesn’t know why she’s asking. So from his perspective, his observation is incomplete. He knows the result (she’s asking to borrow his eraser), but he doesn’t know the cause (why she’s asking).

Thus, rather than simply saying “I forgot mine”, Takagi includes a の at the end: “It’s because I forgot mine.” This gives the reason she’s asking. If she simply said 「()しゴミ()して」 and left it at that (without giving the reason), the boy could respond by asking, 「(わす)れちゃったの?」 “Is it because you forgot yours?”

しろくまカフェ bis Example

Panda goes to visit Polar Bear, only to find Polar Bear holding a snowboard. This creates an incomplete observation. Panda observes Polar Bear holding a snowboard, but the cause (the reason why) he’s holding the snowboard is unknown.

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Panda suggests a reason: “Are you going out somewhereの?” “Is it that you’re doing out somewhere?”

Here, Panda uses の to ask for confirmation of whether his reasoning is correct.

チーズスイートホーム Example

When a young boy finds an exhausted kitten in the park, his mother brings the kitten back to their apartment. Later, they find the kitten sleeping in the entryway.

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The boy asks, “Why is the kitty sleeping in the entrywayの?” He observes the kitten sleeping there, but the observation is incomplete because he doesn’t know the reason why. Thus he asks. “Why is it that the kitten is sleeping in the entryway?” “Because why is the kitten sleeping in the entryway?”

The mother replies, “Probably, because it’s a comfortable spot for the catの.” The mother has the same incomplete observation, so she suggests a reason. “Probably, it is that it’s a comfortable spot for the cat.” “Probably it’s because it’s a comfortable spot for the cat.”

よつばと! Example

Yotsuba’s father bought a couple of pastries for an afternoon snack. Yotsuba sneaks and eats hers early, then eats her father’s éclair as well. Realizing she did wrong, she runs next door for help.

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After hearing the story, the neighbor asks, “Why did you eat your father’s, tooの?” Her incomplete observation is Yotsuba’s testimony to having eaten the éclair. She lacks the reason why Yotsuba did it. Thus she asks, “Why is it that you ate your father’s too?” “Because why did you eat your father’s too?”

ふらいんぐうぃっち Example

After getting off the intercity bus, Makoto is greeted by her cousin Kei.

Makoto’s incomplete observation is that her cousin is at the bus stop. The part she is unaware of is why he is there. She comes up with the most obvious reasons, and asks it: “Did you come to pick me upのです?” “Is it that you came to pick me up?” “Is it because you came to pick me up?”

Note that there was never an exchange where Makoto asks why Kei is there. Asking if it’s the case that he’s picking her up implies that she’s inquiring as to the reason why he’s there.

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I got my copy in today, I got a little carried away and read the first chapter already though :grin:

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Well actually he’d respond by overthinking the entire situation for a few minutes, wondering how he’s going to be tricked, only to still fall into a trap.

(I just watched the first season of the anime and really liked it.)

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Great breakdown and examples! I never made the connection between の and incomplete observations; I hope I’ll remember this so I can sound more natural in conversations.

If you don’t mind me asking, how did you hide your text like that?

I think this is the longest I have gone between knowing about a book club and it actually starting. I get that international shipping can be a bit of a butt these days, so we need to give everyone time to get their books if they’re going to read along with a physical copy, but I wanna start!

Maybe I’ll peek this weekend…

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I’m already getting a physical copy of Kiki for myself so I decided to go with digital for this one. Am trying to refrain from reading ahead but I might just do that anyway

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May I recommend the spin-off where they’re adults? It’s also really nice (though I find it sad how little maturity nishikata has gained, there are some wonderful points where he could have turned it around and flustered takagi (also, how awkward is he still, considering they have a child together?) but on the whole it’s a really nice way to tide you over for a while :smile_cat:

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As well, an option for those who may not want to “skip ahead” to the adult years would be to pick another manga by the same author. I’ve been enjoying 「それでも歩は寄せてくる」 as an easy read with short chapters (6 to 8 pages each.)

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Oooh, did not know this series :smile_cat: Definetly reading! Thanks for the recommendation!

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Got my copy today. I’m not really all that far at all in grammar, but I still want to give it a try anyways, and it’ll be nice to compare myself and try again in a few months.

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I just started watching the anime as well (I’m hoping having seen it will make reading a bit easier :sweat_smile: ) it’s really cute and making me even more excited for book club!

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Lovely stuff! Got a copy there. Looking forward to reading with you all :]

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Thank you so much, I truly appreciate the time you took to help :relaxed:

Sadly, I didn’t realize Kitsun wasn’t a free resource so I won’t be able to upkeep the deck after all.

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thanks for setting this up, i’ll join in and try to read as much as i can at my level, will hopefully be through with N5 grammar on bunpro by then.

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I tried joining Haikyuu reading before, but couldn’t catch up with it. Now that I passed Level 20 and finished the first Minna no Nihongo book, I think this will be a good start to focus on reading. :slight_smile:

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