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Hofmann

Seeking straightforward Japanese grammar

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Hofmann

I am trying to brush up on my Japanese. I am looking for a straightforward grammar that doesn't complicate things by attempting to simplify them. For example, it took me too long to realize that na-adjectives are not adjectives. I would like them to be called verbs as they are. Same with -ru verbs and -u verbs. I was left to figure out that -u verbs end with consonants and -ru verbs end with vowels by myself, therefore accounting for the "exceptional" -u verbs that end with -ru.

 

Is there any grammar like this?

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MPhillips

Dear Hofmann--If I find such a book I'll tell you--am fairly certain the textbook we used in college(by Eleanor Jorden) called words like "kirei" & "suteki" na-adjectives.

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philwhite

Hi Hofmann,

 

You might find the following useful, both by Tuttle Publishing

  • The Complete Japanese Verb Guide
  • The Complete Japanese Adjective Guide

They are both in Romaji throughout, which may be a disadvantage for you. The only Kanji+Okurigana in the Verb Guide is the plain form of each verb, including any homophones.

 

For each of 600 verbs, the Verb Guide gives the most complete conjugation I've seen in any book, followed by five example sentences in Romaji and English.

 

The Adjective Guide has 50 chapters, each on a different topic relating to usage of adjectives, not a boring catalogue of individual adjectives. Each chapter comprises a few sections, with each section containing

  • a few paragraphs of concise explanation
  • with the minimum of examples
  • followed by five to twenty exercises with the answers in the back of the book.

 

 

Also there are the three excellent three books by Makino and Tsutsui, A Dictionary of Basic/Intermediate/Advanced Japanese Grammar. As you'd expect from the title, these are more useful for reference rather than study.

 

In Basic, all examples are in Kanji with Romaji and English below. In the others, the examples are in Kanji with some Furigana and English, no Romaji.

 

Each entry has:

  • very concise explanation of the essential meaning of the Japanese word or expression
  • a few alternative English translations of the word
  • short list of related Japanese words
  • one Key Sentence example, or occasionally two or three where strictly necessary, in frames to show the structure.
  • Formation (concise examples to show usage in different contexts and any morphological changes eg. following a Verb or following a Noun)
  • several Example sentences with English below
  • several explanatory Notes, including Related Expressions

If you are considering any other Japanese language study books but cannot browse them in a bookshop, then let me know. I may have them and be able to comment.

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philwhite

Hi Hofmann,

 

 

For example, it took me too long to realize that na-adjectives are not adjectives. I would like them to be called verbs as they are

 

Perhaps you meant that, in adjectival predicates, i-adjectives conjugate like verbs whereas na-adjectives behave somewhat like nouns, conjugating with the copula da.

 

 

-u verbs end with consonants and -ru verbs end with vowels

 

There are some exceptions. For example, iu (to say), the verbs ending in -au such as au (to meet, to fit), kau (to buy), maniau (to be in time), utau (to sing) and the verbs ending -ou such as mayou (to get lost) and sasou (to invite).

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Hofmann

philwhite,

Thanks for the recommendations. I'll refer back to your post when I have more time to study. 

Perhaps you meant that, in adjectival predicates, i-adjectives conjugate like verbs whereas na-adjectives behave somewhat like nouns

Yes, that is what I meant.

There are some exceptions. For example, iu...

Yes, and in those cases, I would very much like to know the whole shebang regarding historical Kana orthography.

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skylee

I am not sure I understand the issue of i-adjectives vs na-adjectives. I was told at the start that one is 形容詞 and the other is 形容動詞 and they behave in different ways. Anyways, good luck.

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MPhillips

Similarly to what Skylee said, the Eng.-lang. Wikipedia page on Jse. grammar says that 形容動詞 are what most Eng.-lang. textbooks call "na-adjectives" (although I was wrong about E. Jorden's terminology, according to Wikipedia she calls them "na-nominals") while the 形容詞 are called “i-adjectives”. The article also states that it is a matter of debate amongst Jse. grammarians whether or not to consider 形容動詞 as inflectional (and thus in the same category as verbs & 形容詞).

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