Review: A dictionary of basic Japanese grammar

dictionary of basic japanese grammar japan times
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I’m currently building up my Kanji and vocabulary knowledge with WaniKani and not doing much to improve on my grammar skills. After finishing Genki I&II, I just didn’t want to continue with another textbook. And it would’ve been tough to even find one that can match the incredible quality of the Genki textbooks. I’m just reading some stuff in Japanese and whenever there is an unknown grammatical term, I’m trying to look it up. At first I was using Tae Kim’s Grammar Guide for this, but even if it’s a great resource on itself, it just wasn’t made for this purpose.

But help was near: There exists a series of three books in Japan which is exactly made for looking up grammatical stuff, with the fitting name: The dictionaries of Japanese grammar. 

There are three volumes in total, separated after “difficulty” of the terms and constructions used. Or more likely after the complexity of these. I just bought the first one for now and will probably order the other two which are aimed at 中級 (intermediate) and 上級 (advanced) leaners with my next book order from Japan. Strange ending on a word? I will just look it up and will get tons of example sentences where the grammatical term is put to use so you can get a proper feel for the usage.

Everything is alphabetically organized for the readers convenience and the explanations (in English, of course) are spot on. There is a reason why these three dictionaries of Japanese grammar are standard material in many Japanese teaching universities around the globe.

  • Buy A dictionary of basic Japanese grammar directly from Japan at CDjapan or WhiteRabbitJapan
    (If you buy the book through this link, I’ll get a small referral fee which will be used to buy even more awesome books for review.)

Note 2.3.15: I didn’t like the pictures too much and just took some new hopefully better ones today

dictionary of basic japanese grammar japan times-10

dictionary of basic japanese grammar japan times-11

  • Buy A dictionary of basic Japanese grammar directly from Japan at CDjapan or WhiteRabbitJapan
    (If you buy the book through this link, I’ll get a small referral fee which will be used to buy even more awesome books for review.)

The ultimate resource for looking up Japanese grammar. Should lie on every Japanese learners night table.

10 Usefullness
8 Fun-Factor
9 Eye-candy-factor
10 Japanese Tease kudos
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  • Ekadish Bal

    hi, the link to buy ‘A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar’ on CDJapan is no longer working. Is this the same book:

    • JapaneseTease

      Thanks a lot for letting me know. I changed the link in the article accordingly. Yes it’s the exact same book.

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  • Scott

    Sorry if this comment may be too long. But I was wondering if using this book as a new student to Japanese is a good idea? It seems like you would have to already know how to speak Japanese in order to search around the book for words. Is the entire book in a dictionary format? Or is there a part that teaches you how to put sentences together?

    Also, I was wondering if there is a book for learning Japanese, that is like some Spanish textbooks I used to own. Where each section has a different topic. Sports. Food. Greetings. Family. Etc. Each section would have a set of new vocabulary based on each topic, and then teach you how to incorporate that into the basic sentence structure the book taught you.

    I really appreciate any kind of reply to this.

    • JapaneseTease

      I definitely wouldn’t recommend the Dictionaries of Japanese grammar on their own to learn the basics. Just grab a decent textbook for this (highly recommend getting Genki) and start with it. I know exactly what you mean with your explanation. Al the study books in my school were structured like this as well.

      Genki is in fact a little similar to this approach. There is a story about an English speaking girl coming to Japan and though little dialogues at the beginning of each chapter new grammatical terms etc. a presented for the first time. I don’t really remember the details anymore because it’s been quite a while since I went through the books. But just have a look at the pictures I’ve taken. And after all you can’t do much wrong with Genki.

      Hope I could help after all. Let me know how things are going once you decided :)

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  • Soul Shackles

    Hi! I know I am 2 years late here, but I just ordered this and I was wandering if this book gives us a good explanation on the particles matter. It’s the part I am most confused with, so I was hoping it would me out! :D

    • JapaneseTease

      It will definitely help you out with particles as well. There is already a lot covered in the first one (the basic one) and all basic particles are thoroughly explained in there. Don’t have the book here right now so I could double check but everything so be in there. Good choice buying the Dictionary. You really can’t own it early enough. Let me know how your studies are going :)

      • Soul Shackles

        Thank you so much! I guess it was worth the money after all. I also found a book on particles which is called “All about particles: A handbook of Japanese Function Words”, so I hope that will help me out as well.

  • Justin Maine

    Hi Jakob. I’m from England, UK. I have an old BBC Japanese ‘language and people’ course (with cassettes). Am I best to use ‘Genki’ instead? If so, do I need more than one book to start off with? Also, should I purchase this dictionary in grammar as well? P.s. I also have books on Kanji and a furigana book.

    • JapaneseTease

      You should purchase this dictionary. It’s useful no matter which stage of your Japanese learning you’re in. Unfortunately I don’t know that old BBC book but Genki is always a good choice which I can vouch for. I guess you already read my guide for Japanese self-leaners, if not this one probably has a couple suggestions for you

  • vidgrod

    I’m self studying japanese, and these dictionaries, they are sooo good! amazing reference books to complement your knowledge, in fact I think the explanations provided in them are way more complete and on point than what you get on Genki.
    12/10, I would buy again.