This section of the web site contains a very brief introduction to Japanese grammar. It is not meant to be complete; it’s just enough to get you started.

Grammar? Do I Really Need It?

First, let’s see who doesn’t need grammar.

If you don’t fit into those categories, then you can profit by learning grammar. You may not be looking forward to it, because most people’s experience in grammar classes has been...let’s just say...not very exciting.

What Grammar Buys You

Knowing grammar helps you figure out how sentences work. One problem with the listen-and-repeat method is that you learn sentence patterns without learning how the patterns are constructed. You may, for example, learn these sentences:

What is this? It is a pencil.
What are these? These are pencils.
What is this? It is a book.
What are these? These are books

You are pretty much left on your own to figure out the rule that an “s” at the end of a word signifies plural, and that the plural of “this” is “these.” The good news is that once you figure out a rule, it is your rule, you own it, and you are unlikely to forget it.

The bad news is that some rules are tricky to discover. A grammar book can set out the rules for you to make the process a lot faster.

How to Learn Grammar

Practice. No, really, that’s the key. At first, figuring out patterns for your sentences will be slow. Very slow. Don’t give up! The more you practice, the more familiar the patterns will become. So let’s start with the basic structure of a sentence.