Study Guide for Learning Japanese

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Over the years Suki Desu has randomly published several articles on the Japanese language. Many do not know how to use such articles. In order to make everything easier, we have created a Study Guide to help you learn Japanese in a simple and definitive way.

This Study Guide will be constantly updated with new tips, article lists, information and more. This post was last updated on 9/21/2022. I hope you like the article and share it with your friends.

The Correct Order of Learning Japanese

There is an order where people must learn Japanese, but many people don't follow that order. Some students just want to learn to speak the language, ignoring their writing, saying it is too difficult or unnecessary.

Others study the language by learning to write all the strokes of the alphabet and the ideograms one by one. The way you learn the Japanese language is important because it will affect the speed and quality of your Japanese learning.

We recommend that you first learn to at least read the katakana and hiragana alphabets that we will mention below. It is not necessary to learn to write such words, just learn to read the Japanese alphabet, this will make your learning a lot easier.

Don't waste time writing ideograms, it's not the most practical way to memorize and learn them. Don't even try to memorize Japanese words, because they rely heavily on contexts. For this reason it is important to learn the alphabet.

We have also had other articles on the site that address this topic of the guide:

Study guide for learning Japanese

How to use Suki Desu to study Japanese

The vast majority of articles on the Suki Desu website are lists of vocabulary and words or in-depth studies of certain expressions or functions of the Japanese language. These articles are intended to answer questions from students and the curious.

We do not recommend direct memorization of Japanese words, we prefer that you study entire sentences. We also recommend using spaced memorization systems like Anki. So your results will be better.

We do not have a correct order of study, this study guide will only indicate where to start and what is best to do. The guide mentions several articles published on the site that answer common questions about the Japanese language.

Here is a list of Suki Desu articles that give study tips:

Study guide for learning Japanese

Online Japanese Courses

Although the guide will help you learn Japanese the right way, our site is not rich in materials and does not teach you in detail with video lessons. That's why we have several partners online japanese courses that can help you study Japanese.

If you really want to learn the Japanese language, we have 4 main courses that can help you to reach fluency for good. It would be normal to indicate these courses at the end of the article, but I personally want to cite them first.

Japanese Club – The official Japanese course from Suki Desu, a members area that frequently receives video lessons on subjects from the basics to the advanced of the language.

Nihongo Kakumei Club – This is an area of content and video Japanese lessons with a very low monthly payment, with an annual option. The content ranges from the basics to the advanced of the Japanese language.

Kyoto Institute Japanese Course – An online Japanese course held by a renowned school in Rio de Janeiro, the course uses mnemonics and teaches from basic to intermediate.

Ricardo Cruz – Nihongo Premium – Another great partner of the site, another great complete course that teaches from basic to advanced, also using elements of Japanese POP culture such as anime, manga, dramas and tokusatsu.

You can see other courses in our article about Free and Paid Online Japanese Courses!

Study guide for learning Japanese

Peculiarities of the Japanese Language

Before learning the language, you need to know some peculiarities. The Japanese language is quite different from the others, we can list some peculiarities as:

  • The Japanese language does not usually have a plural;
  • The Japanese language does not have space between words;
  • The Japanese language is made up of phonemes;
  • The Japanese language generally lacks feminine and masculine nouns;
  • In Japanese, verbs go at the end of sentences;
  • Japanese mixes up many foreign words;
  • The Japanese language is very formal;
  • Many suffixes are used mainly in people's names;
Study guide for learning Japanese

Japanese alphabet Hiragana and Katakana

The Japanese alphabet consists of 3 scripts, hiragana, katakana and kanji. The first step in learning Japanese is to study hiragana writing, which is made up of 46 characters that form a total of 109 sounds or syllables. The same goes for Katakana.

The 3 scripts coexist together, they are used to differentiate words. Hiragana is the main script used in almost all words, katakana is used in the writing of foreign words or foreign names.

Kanji are Japanese ideograms that serve to detail, separate, specify and identify Japanese words, which are mostly similar, as it is a language of only 109 syllables. For example: Kami could mean God [神], paper [紙] or hair [髪].

For this reason it is impossible to learn Japanese without knowing how to write or memorizing isolated words. The first step is to learn the hiragana alphabet, followed by the katakana and gradually memorizing the characters, don't be scared by them.

To definitively learn the Japanese alphabet, we have the following articles:

  1. Definitive Guide to Hiragana and Katakana
  2. Can I use Hiragana and Katakana in the same word?
  3. Kanji or Hiragana – How do you know which one to use?
  4. Dakuten and Handakuten – Japanese accents
Study guide for learning Japanese

Japanese Language Particles

The second most important thing, after learning basic writing, is particles. They serve to define a grammatical function in the sentence, like articles in Portuguese. They exert specific functions on the words that precede or follow them.

There are thousands of particles in the Japanese language. Learning them is essential to start taking off in the Portuguese language. Since there are a lot of particles, and they usually do a lot of things, the best way to learn is to study sentences to which they apply.

The first and main particles you should learn are [が, は, の, て, に, を and も]. We have several articles on Japanese particles, we will list these articles below in the order that I personally recommend learning:

  1. Wa and Ga particles
  2. No particles
  3. Particles e, ni and de
  4. Summarizing the Particles
  5. 188 Japanese Particles
  6. Order and Structure
  7. Kara and Made Particles
  8. Ending Sentences with Particles
  9. ものの – Monono Particle
Study guide for learning Japanese

verbs in japanese

The third most useful thing to learn in the Japanese language is verbs. They allow you to express actions of different types. Unlike Portuguese, Japanese verbs are simple and easy to conjugate, and have only past and present.

A peculiarity of the Japanese language is that usually verbs can also be adjectives and nouns. Both 3 can be a word in an ideogram, but it becomes a verb if you use the endings. Same as Game and Play, but has specific rules.

There is so much information about verbs that you would need a guide just to learn Japanese verbs. There is a huge amount of articles about Japanese verbs on the site which you can read below:

  1. List of Verbs N5
  2. N4 Verb List
  3. Learn triple Japanese with compound verbs
  4. Turning verbs into nouns
  5. Irregular verbs
  6. Suru and Shimasu – Creating Japanese Verbs
  7. Potential Verbs
  8. Verbs of communication and elocution
  9. Japanese verbs in the masu form
Study guide for learning Japanese

japanese vocabulary

At Suki Desu we have written many articles that help you to increase your vocabulary. Now that you know Japanese writing, grammar and verbs, you can try to increase your vocabulary using the articles below:

  1. Word List N5
  2. N4 Word List
  3. N3 Word List
  4. List of Food and Food Words
  5. List of Words of English Origin
  6. List of 1000 categorized words
  7. Glossary of Japanese Words
  8. Opposite word list

Some articles focus on basic and important words for everyday life or tourism. See basic Japanese vocabulary articles below:

Study guide for learning Japanese

Adjectives, Pronouns and Others

In addition to particles, verbs and nouns, there are adjectives, pronouns, adverbs and other types of words that make up the Japanese language. We have several articles talking about these types of words. Perhaps now is the right time to learn them.

  1. N5 and N4 adjectives
  2. Type I adjectives
  3. Adjectives -sa -sou -me
  4. Kosoado – Demonstrative Pronouns
  5. Demonstrative pronouns
  6. pronoun dona
  7. Acronyms and abbreviations
Study guide for learning Japanese

Kanji – Japanese Ideograms

As briefly mentioned, you don't have to work so hard to memorize Japanese characters. They are very important, but they should be learned naturally as you learn new words, verbs, phrases and grammar.

Japanese ideograms of Chinese origin are quite complex, they have several readings, a correct writing order and different meanings. For this reason we do not encourage people to spend time learning their spelling and meanings.

We have several articles on Japanese ideograms, see what we recommend in this case:

  1. Why do the Japanese use ideograms in the language?
  2. List of kanji in the order they are learned in schools
  3. Furigana – Read Kanji Texts Using Hiragana
  4. How many Ideograms do Japanese people need to know?
  5. RTK Method to Learn Kanji
  6. Pictographic Kanji
  7. Kanji List N5
  8. Kanji List N4
  9. Kanji List N3

Mobile Apps to Study Japanese

It's always good to have an app on your phone to help you memorize words and learn new things during your Japanese studies. Below we will recommend some Japanese apps for you to use:

anki – Mandatory application for memorization of phrases and sentences created by yourself. There are ready-made decks that can be added, but we recommend using the app for memorization and review of content you've already learned.

Duolingo – It has web version and mobile application. The app offers a lot of material for beginners, level tests to help you progress, and different options depending on the time. It is one of the most popular apps for language learning.

Obenkyo – Undoubtedly one of the most popular applications among those who enter the fantastic world of the Japanese language. It is a very complete application (and in Spanish!) that allows you to learn and review the syllabaries of hiragana and katakana with flashcards and handwriting recognition.

WaniKani – Very popular application for the global study of Kanji and vocabulary. With WaniKani you can learn the official ideograms and more than 6000 related words. It has multiple levels and features example sentences.

Genki Vocab – One of the best apps to learn and study vocabulary. There are flashcards with vocabulary tests, pronunciation audios, sample Japanese sentences (with English translation). It is very complete and well designed.

For more apps, read our article on Apps to Learn Japanese

Study guide for learning Japanese

Books to Learn Japanese on Your Own

Kanji Imagine to Learn – The RTK (remembering the Kanji) is a three-volume book written by James Heisig intended to teach the 3007 frequent kanji used in the Japanese language. In Brazil he was named Kanji Imaginar para Aprender.

The aim of the book is to help you remember the meaning and lines of Kanji using imaginative memory. RTK teaches Kanji using Radicals and composite parts of ideograms to facilitate understanding.

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Genki – A very popular and well-known book among international students of Japanese. It is available in Japanese and English, a perfect option for those who want to learn both languages. Despite its price, it is worth the investment. Just read the comments and reviews on the Amazon page itself.

Minna no Nihongo – One of the most popular Japanese learning books in the world, with books of different levels. It is entirely in Japanese, so it requires special attention and effort to make good use of the book. However, it is one of the best Japanese books in the world.

Marugoto – A series of books based on Japan Foundation standards. This means that they are used in Japan Foundation courses around the world, making them very popular with self-taught students.

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