Would I still benefit enough from Genki to justify buying it?

I don’t mean to suggest that everything in Tae Kim is wrong - but he is known for having pretty controversial claims about Japanese that aren’t really well supported by evidence and then doubling down on them when it’s pointed out. For example, insisting that Japanese isn’t SOV or that だ isn’t simply the casual form of です. He seems to also have some wild takes about what が really means, IIRC.

If you use him, just be aware that you should take everything with a grain of salt and maybe double check elsewhere. I don’t think that his example sentences are actually wrong, but the explanations are definitely… idiosyncratic.


My impression is that Japanese the Manga Way already covers that quite well - at least I’ve heard multiple people praise it specifically for accuracy and avoiding oversimplification, and I haven’t heard any reports to the contrary. Of course it simplifies things in the sense that it doesn’t cover all of Japanese grammar, but it explicitly tells you when it’s presenting a rough sketch rather than the full story.

I haven’t read a lot of Tae Kim yet, but having read JtMW and some other resources I could already tell that some claims were at least controversial. :sweat_smile: Also Tae Kim’s guide seems more like a terse simplified overview than an accurate and comprehensive guide, so I assume that any understanding I acquire might need to be finetuned later. But I try to read multiple sources for everything anyway unless it’s somehow very obvious that there’s a single authoritative source that also has all the best explanations. :slightly_smiling_face:

Speaking of that, I remember being confused when his guide seemed to claim that a single noun without だ is enough to form a grammatically correct sentence. “The state-of-being is very easy to describe because it is implied within the noun or adjective. There is no need to use a verb nor even a subject to make a complete sentence in Japanese.” Other sources have explained that “i-adjectives” do have the copula ‘baked in’ but nouns always require だ or です, even if だ can be omitted in casual speech.

Obviously I’m not an authority on this question, but this seemed to directly contradict every other source that I read on the topic.

I think you’re doing this right. It’s natural to learn simplified explanations first and then re-learn things a bit more precisely later on. We do it all the time in school. You just probably should try not to learn something that is completely out of touch with reality.

Mmmh I think that your take on it being more terse an overview than comprehensive isn’t too wide of the mark from what I’ve experienced so far (I’m a decent way in I think).

But! I actually quite like that, Genki and others have so much stuff tailored to classroom work that it doesn’t work well for me, since I feel I have to do it as it’s part of the textbook. Then I stop looking forward to learning. With Tae Kim guide, I can pick up my tablet, read a PDF for 15minutes and I feel like I can still learn things.

My current plan is to use Tae Kim to rush through all N5 Grammar, BunPro SRS’ing it. WaniKani for Kanji/Vocab and Renshuu.org for Vocab too. I think the reason I have quit so many times before is I never get to a level where I can ‘use’ Japanese in any meaningful way. So! I thought if I could ‘rush’ through to the end of N5 with hopefully enough sticking that I at least remember what it is, to look it up again, it might keep me more motivated.

I long to be able to pick up some, even very simple, reading and just be looking up some stuff.

Glad that you pointed this out though, I will do some double checking on each element on BunPro (it usually gives a handful of links to resources) as I learn it to get a rounded opinion.

Agreed! :smile:

He’s not wrong that, in casual speech, だ can be left implied (although in which situations exactly is a bit complicated, I would say).

I just find that his explanation doesn’t really help. By making だ its own special thing, I think he just confuses beginners - whereas he could just say that it’s the casual です but that it’s sometimes left unsaid, as basically everyone else does. I don’t think it’s nearly as important to understand the nuances of when you want to use it or not (including the gendered implications) as it is to understand its basic meaning.

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Yeah I like it too! My goal has been to get an overview of all the basic grammar as quickly as possible so that I can start reading native content, and terse overviews are great for that. Errors aren’t necessarily the end of the world because you should be reading critically anyway. And even if one source isn’t technically wrong about something, in my experience explanations that are bad enough to give you the wrong idea are quite common (you will typically find some even in sources that are generally good), so it’s always a good idea to take everything you read as provisional until you’ve had a chance to check multiple sources and think about it yourself. (This is just my general thinking on learning languages, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t apply to Japanese too.)


I keep hearing this about him, can you recommend other “grammar textbook” sites that are more reliable? (And are not video lessons.) It was so convenient to open up google and type “tae kim + [grammatical phrase]” and instantly get a clear explanation. I’ve tried “japanese grammer + [phrase]” instead but usually I have to go through 2 or 3 different sites before finding something that makes sense, never mind being accurate.

It’s not really my style of learning, but some alternatives are mentioned at the end of this post: A small rant about Tae Kim's Guide


Since it hasn’t been mentioned, JLPT practice books, like N4, N3, can be helpful, if that is what you are concerning about. Perhaps you would be able to pinpoint what are essential and missing.

It sounds like a problem of finding the teacher you understands, as a quick reference; also for searching keywords. It might be difficult to give one answer, but I like Maggie sensei.

In the past, I used Tae Kim in a different way – as a basic grammar read-through. I would stay mindful of alternatives. Still, beginners (where I have forgotten much about) probably don’t feel the same way as intermediates and experts?

Also, “grammar” has no “e”.

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@polv @Fryie Thank you both. Looks like Maggie Sensei is a good place to start.

…that might help too :sweat_smile: (Thankfully Google is usually smart about bad spelling.)

I learned this word in WK, and maybe a month later, casually saw it in a quote from one of my favorite wrestlers in a screenshot of a magazine interview on twitter :joy_cat:. There’s also 金玉, which is often complained about here, but which probably would be in a 5K frequency dictionary for specifically pro wrestling :sweat_smile:.


I don’t think you have to get a Genki. MaruMori I discovered recently and I feel teaches grammar well. There is also Crystal Hunters manga as well that teaches Japanese too.

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Kelsey Grammer does, though. :slightly_smiling_face:


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This post also had a better description of some of the problems in Tae Kim’s guide than I managed to find with a quick google. The introduction to が does seem dangerously wrong.

I haven’t checked out all the alternatives, but at least some of them aren’t really drop in replacements for Tae Kim’s guide. For instance Imabi is great, but it’s not really well suited for a beginner to get a quick overview. It would be nice if there were some kind of “community errata” for Tae Kim (since it seems like he won’t be providing one) that listed the main issues you should be aware of if you read it

Some thoughts on Tae Kim alternatives for beginner levels: I really like to recommend the first ~10 lessons of organic japanese (cure dolly), even if one does not continue beyond that, just to get a good understanding of the general structure of japanese grammar. Apart from that, a decent-enough introduction is covered by textbooks like Irodori or Human Japanese. I’d also like to point out that the grammar explanations on bunpro were updated over the last 1.5 years, and since these updates, bunpro is fine as a standalone resource for grammar (one can also look up grammar points with their search function, it works well).

And then there is always Steve Kaufman’s approach of ignoring dedicated grammar study altogether and replacing it with comprehensible input, which is fine for some people depending on their goals with the language. However, I’d still recommend going over a basic introduction to make things easier.

For the grammar-averse, I’d say watching the first ~10 lessons (~2 hours, 1.5x speed is adequate) of organic japanese is sufficient to get started. I also made a script (meant for looking things up after watching it once) up until lessons 13, if someone needs it: Organic Japanese resources - Google Drive

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Ive seen this word quite a bit and all I’ll say is certain people with certain tastes will find it not only in a lot of titles but also just in regular dialogue and text.

Not saying I’m one of those people, but I see stuff yknow


JPDB marks it as “top 9300”, but then I feel like its corpus is pretty biased towards “trashy light novels” :slight_smile: