Absolute beginner Japanese learning ressources

I’ve run out of the little willpower that was stopping me from learning yet another language, so I just started on Japanese. So far, I’ve learned hiragana through the Tofugu Hiragana guide and I’m planning to use their other guide for katakana. I’ll also be trying out wanikani for kanji, and see if that fits me.

Now, where I’m a bit lost as to what to use is grammar. I feel like there are just so many ressources, and I don’t want to spend my time looking through them instead of actually learning. So, what ressources would you recommend for grammar? And what about beginner ressources for listening?

I’ll admit, I’m not a fan of textbooks in general, but I do love my Korean Grammar in Use | L0-27 textbooks, although I use them more as references. Instead, I usually prefer video courses (for example for Korean, the Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean channel is my main source of grammar). Ideally, I’d also like to have a reliable free online ressource to just quickly be able to look up grammar points.
I think it’d also be very interesting to find some videos teaching Japanese grammar from Korean, as I’d probably be able to connect the similar grammar points and concepts a lot more easily that way.


Welcome. You are now one of us. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. :smiling_imp:

On a more serious note:
A lot of people swear by Tae Kim’s Guide. It’s free, so worth taking a look.


I mostly blame Natively for making me start Japanese this early :sweat_smile:. I told myself that I was going to wait before I got to a strong B2 in Korean and comfortably into the intermediate level for Italian, but y’all are just too convincing. Not that I didn’t already have an interest in learning Japanese, but I just couldn’t continue not being able to read all the great books that I see everyone mentionning in Japanese.


There are many video courses, but unfortunately I’m not a video person myself so I’m not in a position to recommend any. I’m sure other people will know better. I’ve only watched a few Cure Dolly videos when I started learning, and they were very helpful in clearing up some confusion about certain grammar points, but coming from Korean you’ll probably have an easier time with grammar anyway.

Bunpro aims to teach grammar via SRS and is quite popular. I’m not sure SRS is the best approach to grammar, but in any case their grammar database is open to everyone, so you can use it for quick lookups.

I liked the app Human Japanese when I was a beginner. It’s something between a textbook and an app, written in a casual, chatty style. The same team also makes Satori Reader, an app that teaches you through reading. It’s not for absolute beginners, and I personally was never at a good level to use it (either too low or too advanced), but I keep hearing very good things about it.

Another free grammar resource is Imabi. It starts from the basics and covers most grammar. Good for looking things up, or reading in order, if you like the style.


They have moved to a paywall platform, but there’s still plenty of free resources accessible and I have used them in the past to tackle JLPT


I really enjoyed this channel but a lot of people find the artifical host too off-putting to enjoy the content. The person behind it passed away a couple of years ago sadly and some fans archived the info in written form: https://docs.google.com/document/u/0/d/1OwVPStFrXRjXvzmrFQUfXpEiPNspYq6JYxA4zDTlhPM/mobilebasic

Highly enjoyed the speaking style of Human Japanese! I read through it for review after years of not studying and it taught me a lot of stuff I didn’t learn properly the first time around. Very easy to read and somehow not boring, which is a miracle where grammar is concerned!


Need to mention renshuu.org as the best overall Japanese language learning resource/platform/community. I joined way before they had absolute-beginner lessons so I can’t speak to how helpful they are myself, but they do have their own curriculum now, and if you prefer there’s also video recordings of most of the lessons being taught by a teacher on Discord.

You may not have this issue if you have experience with another non-European language, but personally I found in the beginner stage of Japanese that it was much more important to simply wrap my head around the logic of the language and the sentence structure than it was to focus on individual “grammar points” or follow a linear progression through any one textbook/curriculum. So for me, it was actually really beneficial to test out multiple beginner resources without really committing, because I got to steep in the fundamentals and see them approached from as many angles as possible until it really started to click.

It’s worth checking your local library to see if they have any learning tapes, textbooks, etc. I started with the old 90s Pimsleur Japanese tapes from mine (they’re also available on archive.org if your library doesn’t have them), and they also had free access to the paid Rocket Languages app.


I’m not a fan of grammar and like to go more of the comprehensible input route.

Comprehensible Japanese is a great channel that has a large playlist of absolute beginners videos:

Learn Japanese with Tanaka-san is just plain adorable and had a lot of beginner (but not absolute beginner) content. I watch them because they’re cute even though they’re way below my level :joy:


Well, I don’t have a background in Korean, so from what I hear Japanese and Korean grammar are similar? If so, you maybe need less of grammar practice then I needed :smiley:

I tried a few of the free resources (Cure Dolly, Tae Kim, …) but ultimately ended up doing Genki 1+2 while following along Tokini Andys videos on them, which, for me personally, worked the best. Since this is partly video based, maybe it could work for you? I’m also not a big fan of textbooks, but all the online guides didn’t really stick for me personally. I guess it was mostly because with Genki I actually did everything in the workbook which made grammar stick better for me.

Additionally, I bought A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar 日本語基本文法辞典 | L0 which I was referencing when jumping into native material and am doing so till this day. :slight_smile: It’s not free though! And not online. :smiley: But for me it was/is the best quick reference for grammar.


Oh and another cute beginner, but not total beginner channel I almost forgot!


Welcome to the Japanese side! We don’t have any cookies, but we do have taiyaki!

And as you can see, good luck choosing anything among the hundreds of possible sources and methods available :laughing:

I’m glad that I started my Japanese journey with a 2 week course at GenkiJACS in Kyoto. Of course, just 2 weeks didn’t do that much, but I had to buy the Genki textbook for it, so… I just continued using it instead of continuing to research “better” methods. (Not sure I’d recommend it though if you don’t have another learner or a teacher to do pair exercises with.)

I think the best way to approach grammar is to keep using it, be it producing output or recognizing it in input, but Bunpro does a good job at preparing me for production/recognition. And it reminds me of the so far little used grammar points that I’d forget otherwise.


It actually is! Someone at some point digitized all three dictionaries (beginner, intermediate, advanced) here:



Will second everything @omk3 suggested (though I didn’t try Human Japanese)!! Only thing I would add there is Lingodeer, which I think is similarly good to Bunpro

I always played the vids on 1.5-2x speed (I’m impatient, but also it helped with the vocal affect).

Honestly, Cure Dolly is when JP grammar started to actually make intuitive sense for me, and I really wish I had discovered it sooner. Despite the clickbaity titles, the content there is really, really solid


Wow that’s awesome, thanks so much for sharing that!! There has been a few things I wanted to look up in the intermediate version anyway :star_struck:


This is amazing, thank you for this! :astonished: I have the books and they’re the best grammar reference hands-down, but I don’t search things up as often as I should because it’s inconvenient. This is a game changer for me!