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Table of Contents
Buying learning materials can be tough and costly. This guide will help you figure out what you need from a grammar book so that you can get learning as quickly as possible without wasting time or money.
A good reference book will also help you to differentiate the minute differences between similar usages and forms.
For those who are sufficiently advanced, it would be good to look for a textbook completely in Japanese. Not only will you be able to more fully understand the nuances in the language, but it can also serve as a good practice tool.
If you’re learning Japanese for work, you’ve probably already figured out that Japanese work culture is pretty formal. Unsurprisingly, that also applies to the language used. Business situations often require not just different vocabulary, but also different grammar than you’d normally come across in everyday conversation.
In order to sound professional, you’re going to have to know how to use them together (after all, it can sound odd and amateurish to use formal honorific sonkei-go grammar patterns with informal kenjou-go vocabulary).
So, you want to find a comprehensive book that teaches you both grammar and vocabulary, preferably with some good examples and cultural notes to show you how it’s done. (Yes, because there is a proper depth to bow–depending on your situation, you should either bob your head, go down 45 degrees, or a full 90.)
Look for some kind of hands-on approach, like short-answer and translation quizzes. Simple quizzes with only one right answer, such as fill-in-the-blank and multiple-choice questions, are good if you’re studying on your own, as you can check your answers against a key.
If you are one of the lucky few that has a native friend or mentor–maybe you meet up with a language buddy at a café every week–then look for freer exercises like essay writing. You can’t check it against a key, but essay-writing is an important first step in teaching you to express your thoughts fluidly in conversation and talks.
Unlike English, in Japanese, your grammar often reflects the amount of respect you’re showing to another person and your personality. There are feminine and masculine grammatical patterns, as well as casual and polite.
There are grammatical patterns that are used exclusively in writing and some that are used exclusively in conversation. There are old-fashioned and defunct grammatical patterns you will hear if you like watching historical anime or NHK samurai dramas.
No matter the setting, explanations about the contexts in which it’s appropriate to use a certain grammar point are necessary for intermediate and advanced learners.
For those who need a little more stimulation, many Japanese textbooks have manga sections, since that’s what draws in a lot of learners to begin with.
Some books come with CDs with audio instruction and practice. CDs can reinforce the grammar point and help you remember it. Shadowing a CD can help with pronunciation and intonation, but only if the speakers on the CD sound natural and not robotic! You can also look for books made especially with shadowing in mind.
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A Handbook of Japanese Grammar Patterns for Teachers and Learners｜Tankobon softcover
The Japanese Grammar Bible
Seiichi Makino, Michio Tsutsui
Dictionary of Advanced Japanese Grammar｜Hardcover, 1st edition
Grammar for Literature and Academia
For those who are even more advanced, this book is an English translation of a beloved Japanese language grammar book, and you might want to use that one instead. You can find that version through Amazon Japan.
Though reviewers say the format takes some getting used to, they like that it has great example sentences and plenty of grammar insights.
Learning’s a little different for everyone, and sometimes unconventional methods click in surprising ways. So here’s a book that offers an out-of-the-box way to ramp up your Japanese grammar.
This rather unconventional book explains the fundamentals of English – think parts of speech, tenses, verb forms, etc. – and relates them to their Japanese equivalents, showing how the two languages are similar and different.
It does so in two steps: first, by explaining English terms in English contexts, and second, by deconstructing Japanese sentences and showing how the parts of speech in each language appear in different places in the sentence.
While this book might not teach you very much new Japanese grammar, it will definitely help to teach you about grammar, giving you a deeper understanding not only of Japanese, helping you to more easily grasp new patterns down the line, but also of English.
Now that you've picked out a grammar book, you might find that you need supplemental materials that can help make your studying a little easier. Dictionaries are a great way to start, and all the better if it's electronic. And if you want to study on the go, learning apps are great, too.
This expert reviewed the contents of the buying guide for accuracy and provided factual corrections when necessary, as well as extra tips and advice. They did not participate in the product selection process, nor are they affiliated with any of our choices unless explicitly stated so.
No. 1: Group Jammassy｜A Handbook of Japanese Grammar Patterns for Teachers and Learners｜Tankobon softcover
No. 2: Seiichi Makino, Michio Tsutsui｜Dictionary of Advanced Japanese Grammar｜Hardcover, 1st edition
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