tl;dr, what’s the best place to start learning Japanese grammar if I’ve already learned a chunk of kanji/vocab?
I absolutely love WaniKani, and it’s the perfect tool for me because I get drawn to the mechanics of languages and bogged down by rote memorization. WK was like a godsend for that – I have almost no time to study because fulltime job and three kids, there are no native speakers in my area, and vocab is frequently the hardest part of foreign languages for me.
So now I’ve learned some vocab (lvl 12). Now where do I go with it?
I can often get the gist of what’s going on in Japanese media and have developed an intuitive sense for some of the particles, but I can’t piece together sentences. Most grammar resources start at the very beginning with writing hiragana and keigo “is” sentences, which I’m definitely past.
Is there a sweetspot resource I’m not aware of for this?
Personally, I really like Cure Dolly’s subtitled Japanese From Scratch video series.
For text-based learning, you’ll get recommendations on textbooks (such as Genki) and online guides such as Tae Kim’s guide, or Sakubi’s one-page (a long page) grammar guide.
Once you have the basics of grammar down, what will really help is taking the time to try reading native material, even if means deciphering the Japanese text line by line, looking up vocabulary and grammar as you go.
This is harder to do when time is a premium, but it will really help you see which grammar to focus on learning better and it helps you get used to the most common vocabulary words. (We have book clubs that massively streamline this process.)
Plus, deciphering/reading native material (when you’re ready for it, which is sooner than you think) will help your brain’s pattern recognition start to recognize common grammar and vocabulary that you keep seeing over and over again.
This is exactly what I was looking for, thank you!
I couldn’t agree with @ChristopherFritz more strongly about Cure Dolly or Tae Kim. Both have a wealth of excellent information.
Imabi is also quite good.
Somebody on this forum also pointed me at this Japanese verb conjugator which I have found myself using surprisingly often lately.
As you do as much reading as possible, it can also be incredibly helpful to use example sentence databases. Again, some helpful person here pointed me at this Cure Dolly video that explains how to use example sentence databases of professionally translated text to further study various things. I’ve started using weblio as described in the video quite a bit, as well as linguee.
Lastly, if you want a fun, low-effort way to get exposed to many different grammatical constructs, please join us at the daily senryu translation thread. Senryu are basically non-serious haiku, often wry, comical observations of everyday life. Because they force the authors to fit things into 17 音, they often use uncommon grammatical constructs, which sometimes makes them feel like a puzzle to solve.
Most of us there are still very much beginners, so we make a lot of mistakes (especially me!) but that’s part of the fun. Even absolute beginners are welcome and can contribute (half the battle is figuring out how to express something in English).
I’ve been using Bunpro, its got SRS like WaniKani, and it assumes you know hiragana and katakana. Keep in mind that its paid, though.
The SRS is based on grammar one pagers and they always have sources to back them up (like Tae Kim or other videos/articles that have been mentioned in this thread), there’s a bunch of example sentences that you get tested on per item, so its not like you can cheat the system that way. You can even link your WaniKani account, so that kanji that you already know wont show up with furigana.
They have a month long free trial so there’s no harm in trying that! Personally I just finished the N5 track (you can pick the order in which you learn somewhat, I went with JLPT levels), which took me about 6 weeks I wanna say. It did put my WaniKani on the backburner (I just did my daily reviews, barely any lessons), but that was just me trying to not go crazy with my workload.