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Sentence structure!

Rainney

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I have a question about how to go on about learning Japanese.. I've tried so many how-to-learn Japanese programs and books and things but all they do is get me to memorize words.. But what about sentence structure? It's the only thing I don't understand. Anyone can memorize all the words, but if you don't use the language and know the sentence structure, you'll eventually forget them, unless you live in Japan and are constantly hearing it. I'm not sure if I'm wording this properly..

Particles, how do they work? What order to say things in. Things like that.

Example; If I had to completely guess at how to ask someone if they wanted breakfast, I'd end up saying: "Anata wa asagohan o tabetai desu ka?" Which is more than likely horribly wrong.

Any suggestions on how to go about learning sentence structure and particles, or programs/videos explaining it? :(
 

Coffeesan

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I have a question about how to go on about learning Japanese.. I've tried so many how-to-learn Japanese programs and books and things but all they do is get me to memorize words.. But what about sentence structure? It's the only thing I don't understand. Anyone can memorize all the words, but if you don't use the language and know the sentence structure, you'll eventually forget them, unless you live in Japan and are constantly hearing it. I'm not sure if I'm wording this properly..
Particles, how do they work? What order to say things in. Things like that.
Example; If I had to completely guess at how to ask someone if they wanted breakfast, I'd end up saying: "Anata wa asagohan o tabetai desu ka?" Which is more than likely horribly wrong.
Any suggestions on how to go about learning sentence structure and particles, or programs/videos explaining it? :(

Japanese is Subject-Object-Verb, basically the thing to remember at the beginning is the verb comes at the end.

I eat sushi - English
I sushi eat - Equivilent in Japanese

Theres also an order for topic, direct object, indirect object, direction, possession, time and a few other things. I'm not too sure if they are fixed though. To be honest though you dont need to know the full order for basic sentences while you're learning. I can also tell what your sentence is saying but I'm not sure if the verb is the right form or not so better wait on a mod to help.
 

Rainney

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Japanese is Subject-Object-Verb, basically the thing to remember at the beginning is the verb comes at the end.
I eat sushi - English
I sushi eat - Equivilent in Japanese
Theres also an order for topic, direct object, indirect object, direction, possession, time and a few other things. I'm not too sure if they are fixed though. To be honest though you dont need to know the full order for basic sentences while you're learning. I can also tell what your sentence is saying but I'm not sure if the verb is the right form or not so better wait on a mod to help.
Thanks for replying! :)
And yeah, the only thing I know so far is basically that it's subject-object-verb. But the things I've studied before on the other structures for other types of words never clarify a structure so I have no clue how to say/understand anything other than simple things.. :cry:
And if that's the case though, (about not having to know full sentence structure) then how should I go about learning Japanese? Should I just memorize words like the books and stuff tell me? :?
 

eeky

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I personally think that memorising words in isolation is a waste of time, as well as being very boring. All that time you spend memorising, you might as well be studying words being used in proper sentences.

[Edited] However, I would make an exception in the case of learning to recognise kanji characters. Even though they are time-consuming to learn by rote, the payoff is worthwhile IMO.
 

Mike Cash

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I've given this advice so many times I think I'll have it carved on my tombstone:

Get a pedagogically sound textbook.

I'm not referring to the "Learn Japanese While You Take a Dump" or "Japanese Made Super Easy" sort of crap. Throw that sort of stuff in the trash where it belongs. Get an actual professionally prepared, pedagogically sound, honest-to-goodness, genuine TEXTBOOK such as is used in college classrooms. If there are any drill materials or audio materials associated with it then buy those as well.

Proper textbooks will present the material in a sensible fashion and order, with ample explanations, examples, drills, and practice material. Each lesson will build upon and reinforce previous lessons. The materials will have been "road-tested" in college classrooms already and found suitable for the task of learning Japanese. The other crap is typically thrown together slap-dash and is suitable for raking in a few bucks for the publisher and not much else, unless you have a problem with rings on your coffee table, in which case they make excellent drink coasters.
 

Coffeesan

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I've given this advice so many times I think I'll have it carved on my tombstone:
Get a pedagogically sound textbook.
I'm not referring to the "Learn Japanese While You Take a Dump" or "Japanese Made Super Easy" sort of crap. Throw that sort of stuff in the trash where it belongs. Get an actual professionally prepared, pedagogically sound, honest-to-goodness, genuine TEXTBOOK such as is used in college classrooms. If there are any drill materials or audio materials associated with it then buy those as well.
Proper textbooks will present the material in a sensible fashion and order, with ample explanations, examples, drills, and practice material. Each lesson will build upon and reinforce previous lessons. The materials will have been "road-tested" in college classrooms already and found suitable for the task of learning Japanese. The other crap is typically thrown together slap-dash and is suitable for raking in a few bucks for the publisher and not much else, unless you have a problem with rings on your coffee table, in which case they make excellent drink coasters.
I'm sure you've probally answered this many times too but... Any advice on a serious academic Japanese language textbook? Cost isnt an issue.. Investment after all. The 2 books I have are atrociously shite and thats being kind.
And Rainny - Well you'll need to learn the other particles eventually sure, I just meant the basic ones should be learnt first as は がand を are the 3 basic ones you need for newbie sentences, things like ''I am a noob'' and ''I eat noobflakes'' etc.. Learn the 'harder' ones as you need them. I made my first attempt last week trying to implement と and も particles into a lengthy sentence and failed horribly even though I thought it made perfect sense.. So dont worry just keep at it.
 

Mike Cash

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I'm sure you've probally answered this many times too but... Any advice on a serious academic Japanese language textbook? Cost isnt an issue.. Investment after all. The 2 books I have are atrociously shite and thats being kind.

It has been many years since I used any so my knowledge is horribly out of date. I used Learn Japanese: New College Text, which is very dated now and which receives a lot of very negative reviews. In fairness, I don't think a lot of the texts which have more positive reviews were even out yet when Learn Japanese: New College Text was published. I doubt that all four volumes are even available anymore and I don't think the tapes are available at all.

Some of the people who are studying currently can give you better recommendations on which texts they have found most useful.
 

nekojita

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Although I didn't use it myself, Genki is one that I see recommended a lot. You can see example pages here, and it looks quite good to me:
Genki – Page and Audio Samples

Generally most decent textbooks will follow a similar format, e.g. introducing some new grammar point/sentence pattern in the initial dialogue and then providing the explanation and some practice exercises.

I wouldn't expect a textbook to provide you with sections which are all about a given particle - e.g. there is unlikely to be a section on "how to use に", but it will be introduced when it's appropriate for the pattern. So you might first see it in a sentence like 学校に行きます (go to school), with some explanation about how it works in that sentence pattern, but not get introduced to other uses of に until later.
 

Coffeesan

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Ah ha cheers guys I'll look up Genki and mabye Mikes old book as well, dont mind taking a risk on it if its cheapish. Sorry for the hijack Rain!
 

eeky

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As a beginners' book, I used "Japanese for Everyone" (Susumu Nagara). There is masses of material in that book, and, as I may have said here before, when I got to the end of it I really felt as if I had learned some "proper" Japanese. It is quite dense though, and takes a long time to work through properly if you are a complete beginner. It took me months. My old copy came with cassette tapes. According to a comment on Amazon, modern editions have downloadable audio.

If you are following a textbook approach, and especially if self-studying, in my opinion you need one good beginners' book, and then a whole series of intermediate books. I feel I could go on for several years with intermediate-level books, provided enough have been published! So far I have done these ones:

"An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese" (Akira Miura and Naomi McGloin) -- Good book, and I was quite pleased that I could understand most of it, albeit sometimes a bit painstakingly, and sometimes with help from the good people at this forum. Translations of the main texts are not provided, which I find annoying in several of these books (what, like I'm going to cheat myself and peek before I've had my best shot?!). Comes with CDs.

"A Homestay in Japan" (Caron Allen / Natsumi Watanabe). -- I found this book flimsy in terms of amount of content, and I didn't really feel it was worth the money I paid.

"New Approach Japanese Intermediate Course" (Noboru Oyanagi) -- Good book, with a decent amount of solid content. No English anywhere in the book, however. Comes with CDs.

"Intermediate Japanese - An Integrated Course" (Nobuko Mizutani) -- Worthwhile book, but I found the exercises, which take up quite a lot of pages, a bit tedious and uninspiring. Translations of the main texts are given. My second-hand copy apparently originally came with cassette tapes but I don't have them. Not sure if there's a modern edition with CDs or downloadable audio. I've found this book quite hard.

Next up is "Hiyaku: An Intermediate Japanese Course" I haven't started it yet, so can't comment except to say that the book looks like it was printed on my home PC on cheap copier paper, and I anticipate becoming very irritated by the fact that it does not lie open flat on the desk. Audio is available online.
 
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Glenn

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I think my two favorite were the dictionaries of Japanese grammar. They're loaded with info, breakdowns of grammatical items/patterns, and example sentences. The dictionary format could be a downside, though. I read straight through the beginning one and then the intermediate one after that, and I felt like I had learned a whole lot when I was done. So in one sense, they're sort of like reference materials, but that's not how I used them and I think it worked pretty well for me. One downside is that they're pretty pricy, though.

A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar
A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar
 

Glenn

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Oh, I forgot that there's now an advanced one too, although I've never seen it in person (or inside of it): Dictionary of Advanced Japanese Grammar. It says "Japanese version" in parentheses, but it doesn't seem to be in Japanese judging from the cover. I know, you're not supposed to do that, but that's all I've got to go on.
 
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