Tools Review: 8 – Grammar Books

Since we talked about all the different places to get some of your text books, lets cover a variety of grammar books out there. Now those who follow closely to the context method (grammar only learned after you learned) don’t tend to like grammar books. However if you’re one who likes to study grammar, or is looking for a book to explain why you’re doing what you’re doing there are a number of fun books out there, as well as some serious head nodders.

I’ll try to cover some popular ones, as well as my personal favorite. There are also some websites that offer some yummy grammar points too. The difference between a grammar book and a course book is simply that the grammar book doesn’t take the time out to teach you vocabulary, kanji readings, culture, or anything of that sort for the most part. Its simply there to tell you about the building blocks of the language and why things are done the way they are.

Do you need to know grammar to learn a language?

There is a large argument over this in the language learning community. The argument from those saying no is simply that you could speak, read, and write in your language without knowing grammar, so you should be able to learn a language without it. They also claim that grammar rules can cause you to be to strict when trying to create sentences as well as miss out on all the varying subtle exceptions (and let there be no doubt, there are hundreds and thousands of exceptions).

On the flip side, some claim that grammar is an inescapable part of learning a language, or that learning grammar allows you to learn the language faster since you already have an understanding of grammar rules and building blocks from having studied your own in school. The argument is finding one that allows you to build sentences from scratch based on logical grammar rules will allow you to take virtually any vocabulary word and plug and play, and understand the various intricate meanings of sentences.

So regardless of which boat you fall into, its not horrible to own a really fun grammar book. I fall into the first boat, I believe that one doesn’t need to memorize grammar rules to use the language. Even still I have a grammar book for whenever I want to satisfy some odd curiosity of why or what. It really doesn’t matter which you believe, but rather which way works best for you.

The following list of course is a focus for those who are still reading primarily English. There are are a lot of books out there in Japanese but we’ll cover those later.

J Gram:

This website is pretty popular and a bit more versatile past just grammar. Because the community is large questions can often be resolved quickly.

JGram is dedicated to helping people learn to speak Japanese, in the most effective interactive way: by communicating, sharing knowledge, and talking between Japanese and non-native speakers. This is an interactive community where you are encouraged to contribute your knowledge to our growing database of Japanese grammar. We also encourage you to spread the word and recruit your friends (especially any native speaking friends) to contribute.

Tae Kim’s Guide to Japanese Grammar:

This guide was created as a resource for those who want to learn Japanese grammar in a rational, intuitive way that makes sense in Japanese. The explanations are focused on how to make sense of the grammar not from English but from a Japanese point of view.

This is probably one of the most talked about and used resources in the grammar loving community out there. I always hear about this site, references to it, and so on. Its a great site to check out and recommended to anyone seriously trying to get their grammar on.

Japanese Lessons with Maggie:

Some fun dog pictures, wacky lady, fun lessons!


More like reviewing grammar points versus learning guide:

Visualizing Japanese Grammar:

This site has little mini flash videos to teach you lessons. It seems like a fun way to go about learning grammar points, especially for those visually orientated.

Japanese The Manga Way:

This grammar book is one I own. Its a very fun, picture filled way of learning grammar points. Its laid out pretty easily and goes from simple to complex sentence structures of course, following Japanese and not English layouts. It has all its examples using manga. The artwork is original using Japanese text, then to the side the Japanese text, romaji, English literal translation and then the general translation. It has little culture and vocabulary notes here and there as well.

I feel it does a great job explaining things as well as always noting when it was proper for a man or a woman to say certain phrases or words as well as cover the basics of honorifics. This book does seem to focus of course more on spoken Japanese verses written, which is just fine for me. I write English how I speak it so this is fine for me.

If you probably wanted to get more in depth in terms of honorifics, specific terms and such like that, this book wont really deliver. However if you want a great beginner to intermediate book, then this is perfect (specially if you like having fun!).

A Dictionary of Basic/Intermediate/Advanced Japanese Grammar:

This three book series is well praised for its simplicity, easy to look up features, as well as being divided into three levels to help. I haven’t found many bad things at all about this series in fact, though I haven’t seen inside the cover myself.

There is something for everyone in these books regardless if you’re self studying or studying along side a text/class.

To me though they seem a tad pricey.

The Ninhongoresources Grammar Book:

I like to promote up and coming work that is free and growing. This site is one of those, made by Michiel Kamermans, it is a grammar book that uses Japanese script and has three forms: internet, pdf, and physical book you can buy. A lot of the pages from this book is used in wiki so you might already be familiar with some of the information from this site, however its a nice free resource either way.

Understanding Basic Japanese Grammar:

This book is very popular for those going to take the JLPT, as well as those covering basic to intermediate Japanese. Apparently this book has a motherlode of sentences. So if you’re a sentence picker, it might be a nice little treasure box for you.

みんなの日本語 (Minna No Nihongo):

While this series isn’t just grammar books, there are lots of grammar points covered and practiced specifically and can supplement your studies. They’re a bit expensive for my taste, but the series is mentioned in forums quite a bit as a goodie to have.

Japanese Verbs and Essentials of Grammar:

This handy little book is great for sentence picking, quick look ups, and it doesn’t take up to much space on your shelf. It’s also really inexpensive and I just realized I have this book. hahaha, I bought it back in the day and its been collecting dust! I told you that I didn’t believe in grammar all that much

If you have a book you like and use a lot that focuses on grammar, mention it below!

One Response to “Tools Review: 8 – Grammar Books”
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  1. […] I’ll tell you the best grammar book I’ve ever enjoyed is Japanese The Manga Way, there is also a really good sentence example filled book that is All About […]

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  • Read More or Die! 2011

    _2011 End Results_
    Total read for Tadoku:
    __433.3 pages!__
    Placement: 115/188
    October 2011 Contest:
    Placement: 97/120
    End Tally: 59.2
    July 2011 Contest:
    Placement: 86/142
    End Tally: 195.6
    April 2011 Contest:
    Placement: 62/106
    End Tally: 154.5
    January 2011 Contest:
    Placement: 84/99
    End Tally: 24
    August 2010 Contest:
    Placement: 20/41
    End Tally: 160

  • Read Or Die 2013

    Goal: 600
    Total: 906.26
    blew my goal outta the water!

    March 2-Week:
    Goal: 125

    Goal: 250
    Total: 314

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