Japanese is a unique language. Despite decades of research and investigation, Japanese has not been demonstrably proven beyond a doubt to be related to any other language on Earth, with the sole exception of the minority Ryukyuan languages spoken in Japan. Other than that, the language that comes closest to Japanese grammatically is probably Korean, which some linguists believe might be a distant relative of Japanese.

As a result, Japanese grammar can be quite jarring to learners, especially to learners whose native language is an Indo-European language such as English. On the one hand, Japanese lacks many of the features that are traditionally considered to make a language hard such as grammatical case, noun genders, and an abundance of irregular verbs and plural forms. Not having to worry about if 椅子 (chair) is masculine or feminine or how to make ネズミ (mouse) plural can be quite the relief.

On the other hand, Japanese has many features that will be brand new to you. For example, a well formed Japanese sentence will likely contain zero pronouns, and a complete, complex thought such as I no longer wanted to go can be expressed as a single word. The rabbit hole can go quite deep, and the best advice I can give is to keep an open mind and resist the temptation to try and map everything back onto English.

As I post new articles on grammar, I will categorize them into beginner, intermediate, advanced and classical. Within each section, I will do my best to logically build upon material step by step in a way that does not overly rely on English concepts.

Lastly, before diving into the grammar though, I’d heavily suggest familiarizing yourself with the basics of Hiragana and Katakana as well as the fundamentals to good pronunciation. This way you can avoid the pitfalls that you may run into when studying purely with Rōmaji.

Remember, even though Japanese can at times be difficult, it is nowhere near impossible to learn. It simply requires patience, consistency and an open mind. So がんばって (Do your best)!

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