Starting to learn a new language can be incredibly challenging, especially if the language is not similar to the ones you already know. The same holds for Japanese, which can be overwhelming for a beginner to learn. At the same time being able to understand the language grants access to a new world of information, culture and experiences. Japanese culture is massive with world renowned filmmakers like Akira Kurosawa (from Seven Samurai) and franchises like Pokemon. Ranging from cuisines to fashion, Japanese culture is everywhere.
But now to what you want to know: How to begin learning Japanese or improving the knowledge you already have? Here is a special beginners guide to help you where to start. Below you can find instructions on what you need to learn first and
Step 1. The starting point: Learning the Japanese ‘alphabet’
Your first and foremost task to begin learning Japanese is to learn hiragana. Luckily it’s not hard to learn it, but it can be boring learning something that you can’t use right away and it can taje a long time to become fluent. Don’t be discouraged when you forget the characters and don’t fall victim to the articles saying that you can learn it in a week. You have a busy life, sometimes it can take a few months to learn hiragana, but it’s worth it in the end. Below are the articles for learning hiragana and katakana with their own exercises to help you learn. If you want some more fun while learning, there is even an article about that.
Step 2. Making your first sentence with です
The following step is using です (desu), the Japanese verb to say ‘to be’. です is used for describing things and your very first sentence will look something like ‘The apple is delicious'(りんがはおいしいです). To fully understand this, you learn to conjugate です so you can use it to say something was or wasn’t.
Step 3. How to use these weird Japanese particles?
You have probably never heard about particles being used in a language before but in Japanese they are important to learn. Ironically enough, when you have grasped Japanese fully you’re going to notice that Japanese natives themselves don’t use the particles always as intended, but it’s important to know how they work. Particles are single hiragana characters that give grammatical meaning to a word or a phrase. For example when you say you are going somewhere you place a に(ni) after the place you are going. So Tokioに means ‘to Tokio’. Below is the link to a guide on particles.
- How to use particles: The particle guide.
- Topic marker: は particle
- Subject marker: が particle
- を particle
- に particle
Step 4. Learning to conjugate other Japanese verbs and learning the almighty て form
So here is something that you would expect, conjugating verbs. As with other languages, verbs conjugate in Japanese although they do it differently if you are talking to your professor or to your friend. It isn’t too hard to learn although there are a few tricky exceptions and rules that you have to learn. At the same time there is the て (te) form you have to learn. This form is used A LOT in all kinds of meanings and knowing how to use it opens up all kind of situations for you.
- General rules on conjugation and conjugating the formal form
- Learn conjugating the casual informal form
- Learn conjugating the て form
Step 5. Learn about the two other ‘to be’ verbs: ある (aru) and いる (iru)
You know how to make a sentence using です or a different verb like you learned in earlier lessons, but now you have to expand that lesson to include ある and いる. These are the ‘to be’ verbs for respectively inanimate and animate things. While you use です primarily to describe things. ある and いる are used to say that something exists.
Other lessons to expand your knowledge
If you have done the previous lessons, you have a decent understanding of Japanese. But offcourse, there are enough other areas you have to cover as a beginner. Here are some more articles to get you started: