When should I start learning some grammar?

I just recently unlocked the japanese only forum for level 5 and above, and it looks like most people there already know the grammar rules. I’ve been wanting to learn the grammar but Tofugu (the guide ive been using to learn) says I should wait until I know about 1000 kanji? Should I wait until I know 1000 kanji or is it safe to start learning grammar now? If it’s safe to go ahead and start, are there any websites or apps that would be of help?

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I think you should start now. A fast grammar course that I really liked is Human Japanese. It gives you the bare bones and then later I suggest using university style textbooks (Genki, Tobira, etc…) I think Bunpro is terrific platform to practice exercises but a horrible one to learn grammar.


If you want to start studying grammar and you have the time to devote to it, I’d say go ahead and start now. Maybe I don’t fully understand Tofugu’s philosophy on waiting, but I think it’s more to prevent burnout by not overloading yourself in the beginning.

One nice thing about @mamimumason’s japanese-only threads is that she usually provides a template for answering. That way, if you use a simple dictionary like jisho.org, you can just plug in words and create a correct sentence even if you don’t fully understand the grammar.

Don’t be put off by what other people seem to know - those threads are designed for people like you who are just starting out :slight_smile:, but we all love Mami-sensei, so even more advanced people are posting there too!


I agree with both sergiop and Saruko. The most important things is that you keep going (i.e. don’t burn out by doing too much at once), but knowing basic grammar will allow you to start interpreting Japanese input, including the context sentences that Tofugu throws at you.

Furthermore, while WaniKani teaches you vocabulary efficiently (i.e. much learning per time spent), I personally find that it doesn’t teach me effectiely (i.e. giving me really strong connections to the words and kanji); that normally only happens when I’ve encountered and recognized words in the wild.

I’m currently at 156 kanji Burned, 118 Enlightened, 22 Mastered and 67 Guru’d. The thought of waiting until the sum of those teach 1000 is crazy to me; I’d miss out on so much learning.

If you’re looking for a good start to Japanese and you like listening to podcasts, I can recommend NHK Easy Japanese. They start out from the very basics but manage to cover a fair amount of ground in 48 episodes.

I also recommend both LingoDeer and (perhaps controversially) Duolingo. LingoDeer is good for grammar but really slow with vocabulary, while Duolingo - even though it’s not very well-adapted to teaching Japanese - is useful just to get a regular dose of practice sentences.
However, as sergiop mentioned regarding Bunpro, I think both are more useful for review than for learning; reading a source like Tae Kim’s Guide or a standard coursebook will give you a more full appreciation of the grammar.


You can totally start learning some basic grammar now. My advice is you should always be more advanced with your vocabulary / kanji than your grammar.

I personally started learning grammar with みんなの日本語, but I mostly use Bunpro now. The latter can be linked to your WaniKani account to hide furigana on all known kanji, and use a SRS, just like WaniKani. You can try it out for free for a month.

Avoid being overzealous at the beginning to give up 2 weeks or a month later, though. Once you have the proper tools, regularity is the key!


I’d say now.
I really like japanesepod101.com for learning grammar. It also gives you experience listening to full speed native speakers, with the helpful support of hearing the same thing slowed down.

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I want to insert my two pennies.I also have just started learning grammar a month ago,using bunpro.For some reason,person above critisized it,but I found it very convenient,because they give me acces to resources to learn myself and make me remember grammar via SRS.I’am almost done with N5 and can already understand many things I couldn’t earlier.So, my advice is to look for your of way of learning.I can learn japanese only while on train to my university and that’s why it’s so convenient to use sites such as bunpro, but maybe you’re more convenient with books and they will be a much more help than anything other.There is no pill for learning,unfrotunately for everyone, so just stick to it and find your own way.


L1 speakers know 0 kanji when they start learning grammar.


Start learning ASAP! It will help you string together sentences to practice while you’re learning kanji and vocab. I learned Japanese in a university program, and we didn’t even touch kanji until second semester, but we started with grammar immediately in semester 1 :slight_smile:


Seconding Bunpro as a primary grammar resource, i think it’s fantastic. I’ve learned so much grammar in a short time, and the included SRS hammers it in.
I think their grammar explanations are concise but all that you need, and even if they weren’t, you get 10 example sentences or so per grammar point to get it.
Just be careful not to do too many lessons at once and get overwhelmed by reviews.


They used to say wait until level 10, that’s very surprising that they recommend waiting until 1000 kanji. I absolutely do NOT recommend doing that. Most grammar resources will use furigana for kanji anyway, and the only ones I know of that don’t use furigana are online resources where you can quickly look up unknown kanji. I think you should start learning grammar as soon as possible. Waiting 6+ months to learn grammar is just a waste of time in my opinion. Doing grammar studies alongside kanji studies, as long as it doesn’t overwhelm you, will help you to progress much faster. That way, by the time you’ve learned 1,000 kanji, you’ll also know plenty of grammar and will be able to start reading faster.

For grammar, I recommend the Genki series. You can also check out Tae Kim’s guide for a free alternative. Japanese Ammo with Misa has a ton of good beginner videos on Youtube as well. Bunpro is an SRS tool like wanikani where you can review grammar points you’ve already learned.


It’s also basically an online grammar book though where you can learn new grammar ordered by level with detailed explanations and example sentences.
But I second your other recommendations.


Here is the thing:

Waiting till you get to 1,000 Kanji is ridiculous. Tofugu guide mentions to start when you reach level 10, I’m at level 10 now and let me tell you I’ve got about 330 kanji in Guru or +. Waiting till level 30 to pick up grammar is insane (That’s almost 6-8 months if you’re going full speed).

You’ve probably heard of Genki series and how it’s probably the default beginner grammar textbook. By level 10 WaniKani, I reailzed that I can now read the Kanji (or at least recognize most of the kanji in combo words) of about 75% of the words in the entire textbook (there’s 50-60 words per lesson x12 lessons).

I personally started reading Genki at level 3 WK, having started WK from 0 Japanese. I learned the words without paying attention to Kanji and it worked just fine. In fact, it’s really nice to be able to encounter words on WK that I already know. However, I do believe that if you start at level 10, you can avoid the rote memorization that I did to learn vocab from Genki. That is more efficient, so if efficiency is what you’re really after then by all means waiting for lvl 10 is solid.

However, I’m now almost finishing up the first Genki book. I’ve learned enough grammar to be able to recognize very, very basic sentences from anime subtitles, twitter conversations and other native sources on my own or with a little googling. Because of the grammar foundation also, I’m able to self-study some random slightly more advanced grammar topics when I encounter them in the wild. I’m also able to practice Japanese by making sentences on hinative.com or something using words from WK and the grammar from Genki.

It depends on your approach, but if you’re really trying to pick up the Japanese language (not just read Kanji) then the best time to start immersing yourself was yesterday. Second best time is today.


I know everyone’s already wrote a paragraph, but here’s my input:



You would be surprised how even a little grammar can go a long way. At least learn the basic parts of the sentence and their associated particles–topic (wa), subject (ga), object (wo), verb. Also learn the most common ways to say “I” and “you”. If you do that, you won’t feel as lost in a basic sentence, and if you’re listening to a TV show or anime, you will start to pick out words more easily.
I will say that Tae Kim and other grammar sources became a lot easier to study once I got past levels 9 and 10. Verb conjugation is pretty cruel when you’re not even familiar with the words. But Tae Kim’s early sections about particles aren’t too bad even for a beginner.

… all the grammar seemed so far away.
Now it looks as though it’s here to stay.


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