Time to learn grammar

Hi Guys,

I would like to hear some opinions on how long you think it would take to learn japanese if you remove the kanji/vocabulary stuff from the equation (even though that’s probably hard to do since every part of the language is closely connected to the others), so basically just essentially the grammar.

Thanks in advance <3

EDIT: Sorry for the confusion: I was talking about a scenario where you already have the vocab/kanji knowledge to start with, and by “learn japanese” I mean a level of fluency where you could easily do 95% of the things needed to live in Japan for example!


What’s your goal specifically? That sounds like an…interesting question.

You can’t really remove vocabulary from the equation. Language is primarily vocabulary. If you are asking how long to become fluent without reading at all? It depends on where you live and how you practice i suppose.

Are you trying to figure out a faster way? I’m not sure what you are asking to be honest.

How do you learn a language without learning vocabulary?

I mean, I guess you could learn a list of grammar patterns and plug English words into them, but what would be the point?

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It would take forever, since you would have no words to learn the grammar itself with, and then you would have no words to practice the grammar with.


Sorry about the confusion, please look at my edit in the main post <3

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Sorry about the confusion, please look at my edit in the main post!

Sorry about the confusion, please look at my edit in the main post :slight_smile:

Sorry about the confusion, please look at my edit in the main post ^^

Depends on how much time per day you can use on it, on your consistency and so on, and also which level you want to get to. I’m going through textbooks that cover roughly N5, N4, N3 and N2 and that takes me around 2 years. Probably will still have many things to learn still after that point but I can already understand / read a lot.

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95% is not a lot. You would likely be able to learn that in half a year of living in Japan and being constantly immersed in the language, especially if you have most of the vocabulary. Though if this is a plan about learning all the words first completely ignoring the grammar, and then tacking on grammar afterwards, just don’t. That would be straight hell. Wanikani for example relies heavily on the idea that you would be consuming content while using it.


I think there is a lot at play here. When you say “already have the vocab/kanji knowledge”, how many words and kanji do you mean exactly? Just the jouyou kanji or around 3k kanji? 2k or 5k or 8k most common words?

The 95% is also quite arbitrary. If you mean just regular daily life, like going to the konbini, shopping at a supermarket and maybe buying an IC card, then I guess around a couple of months should be enough. But if you mean holding actual conversations with Japanese people at different politeness levels, interacting with services (bank, doctor, etc.) then it might stretch to up to a year.

It would be easier for us to give more meaningful advice if you let us on your plan, because it feels like you have a certain idea, but we don’t know what it is.


If you already know the kanji and vocab, youre probably already fluent? What are you trying to figure out?

On paper 95% seems like a lot of stuff to be able to do in Japan, but that 5% is make or break and can make the 95% become 0% real quick. Like in relation to taxes or government forms.

Also there’s different parts of the language that are basically their own skill tree. Each requiring time and dedication.

There is no fast pass to fluency. Everyone takes the time they need to get there. I can have conversations, read books, and do a lot of things in Japan that I couldn’t do independently before. But it took a lot of work because I am frankly not the type to make these kind of commitments. While I could see people get pretty good only 2 years in, these people have different personalities, lifestyles, study habits, etc.

So just keep those things in mind.


This seems like an odd thing to ask about, because nobody is ever in that situation so it’s a pure hypothetical. People who already know Chinese get a bit of a head start because of their kanji knowledge, but they still have a lot of vocabulary to learn. So like those of us whose kanji knowledge started at zero, they learn words and grammar in parallel, at the same time.

Learning grammar can only really be done as part of using the language and seeing lots of examples, which means you need vocab; learning vocab fully (so you instantly recognise a word when you see it and understand the nuances and what other words it tends to be used with) also requires you to see lots of examples, which means you need grammar. So everybody learns both at once, gradually, as they go along. You learn more grammar at the beginning, and it gradually tails off and you’re learning bits of grammar that are less frequent, and at some point you almost never encounter a grammar structure you don’t recognise. But vocab learning is a constant, lifelong effort – you will always be learning new words one way or another for as long as you’re working with the language.

My personal opinion is that Japanese grammar is mostly relatively simple and easy to learn; it’s just difficult for people whose native language is Indo-European because it’s completely unrelated to that and works differently in some ways. But it benefits from being studied at not too fast a pace (i.e. not crammed) so you have time to absorb how one set of structures work and see them in action before piling the next set of structures in on top.