A Japanese guide to Japanese grammar

Most textbooks try to teach you Japanese with English. That want to teach you on the first page how to say, “Hi, my name is Smith,” but they don’t tell you about all the arbitrary decisions that were made behind your back. They probably decided to use the polite form even though learning the polite form before the dictionary form makes no sense. They also might have decided to include the subject even though it’s not necessary and excluded most of the time. In fact, the most common way to say something like “My name is Smith” in Japanese is to say “am Smith”. That’s because most of the information is understood from the context and is therefore exluded. But does the textbook explain the way things work in Japanese fundamentally? No, because they’re too busy trying to push you out the door with “useful” phrases right off the bat. The result is a confusing mess of “use this if you want to say this” type of text and the reader is left with a feeling of confusion about how things actually work.

The solution to this problem is to explain Japanese from a Japanese point of view. Take Japanese and explain how it works; forget about trying to force what you want to say in English into Japanese. Another thing is to explain things in an order that makes sense in Japanese. If you need to know [A] in order to to understand [B], don’t cover [B] first just because you want to teach a certain phrase.

Essentially, what we need is a Japanese guide to learning Japanese grammar.

This guide is an attempt to systematically build up the grammatical structures that make up the Japanese language in a way that makes sense in Japanese. It may not be a practical tool for quickly learning immediately useful Japanese (for example, learning common phrases for travel). However, it will logically create grammatical building blocks that will result in a solid grammatical foundation.

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