I don't understand what the reviews are asking me

Granted that this is not the case for most of the reviews, sometimes I come across certain reviews that ask me for a, however b,c,d and e are more correct and actually used when speaking, while the requested “a” is an obscure form only used on written language or by old people, and I waste a few minutes trying to guess what the hell does the review want from me, while I get messages like “Lets try a different grammar structure” or cryptic descriptors of the answer.
Am I the only one that feels like this? I started bunpro to better learn grammar as I’m already able to speak japanese, however sometimes I do silly mistakes that I want to correct, but this is driving me crazy.


I find that using the hints helps with this problem. I can almost never tell if I am supposed to use なければいけない or なければならない, but the hint helps me know which one bunpro is looking for.


Hi! And welcome to the BunPro community.

Unfortunately you’re not the only one who feels this way about the hints. In fact, there’s a Meme thread full of comments joking about it. The developers are aware of this, so I’m sure they are working on ways to mitigate this issue given the sheer amount of grammar points available. Hopefully they’ll tackle this sooner rather than later.

Apologies for not providing any helpful advice. Personally I just deal with it, but I wanted to express that I understand your pain. Especially when it comes to vocabulary, where there are usually no hints at all, it’s brutal once you get into the thousands of words. Perhaps others have better ways to deal with this.

Take care!


The hints do a reasonable job of disambiguating and should indicate that the thing being looked for is not the simple version. If you find that the hints don’t do a good enough job of doing this then I’d suggest giving specific feedback for the hints which aren’t working well enough for you.

I also found that my brain would default to the simplest and normally most conversational way of saying something during reviews but if I forced myself to slow down and think it through then the right answer would come most the time. Actually when I have shown Bunpro to natives a similar thing normally happens where they’ll auto-fill the blank with the simplest thing and then I’ll have to tell them to read the hint because the answer doesn’t really fit the description.

Out of interest, is there a way you wished it did work or a way you think these things could be clearer? I already think the fact that you get bounced back for close answers is pretty good but getting bounced back multiple times can be annoying.

Edit: Just to be clear I am talking specifically about grammar here.


I have the opposite problem in the N4 vocab deck. There’s no indication of which word they want beyond the liberal sentence translation. Which usually leads me in the wrong direction.


Vocab decks are plagued by this, yeah… I think it’s kind of inevitable with how many synonyms there are in any languages, but it can still be frustrating.

You can submit feedback for the Bunpro team to add new synonyms or give hints, but I’ve been told before to stop requesting so many of them for vocabulary items :sweat_smile: I guess the best for now is to guess all fitting vocabulary that come to your mind, even if overly liberal translations make this more of a memorization challenge


Thank you for all the replies, I have no idea how the system could be improved so I guess I’ll just tough it up and deal with it.
I have to add that it was actually quite fun having a Japanese friend of mine do the reviews together with me, and seeing him suggesting the right answer after I fail with mine, only for him to fail as well and get angry.


Yeah, that is always fun. My wife will use a bunch of different japanese answers, but after seeing them, she’s like “oh is that what they wanted? That’s an interesting way to say it.” it helps if the friend is understanding they’re looking for specific grammar and not what native japanese people may say.


Man do I relate to this. I dont see why they dont have an option to let us have our own hints in grammar. to me sometimes translations are weird and I feel different grammar is worded too similarly. (depends on the case) Especially in the vocabulary I would never have translated the way some of them are :,) it throws me off as a user


None of the N4 words I’ve seen have any hints at all, so there’s no point in me asking them to add them as I’d be doing it for every word. I assume they’re going to add them at some point. But I had somehow mistakenly thought that everything up to like N2 or N1 vocab had been fully fleshed out with sentences, hints, synonyms, etc. Maybe that was only grammar and vocab was simply it being rolled out. But regardless N4 is already quite the hurdle since the translated sentence often does not match what the Japanese word would be.

Speaking of synonyms; I realize there are a number that can fit within a given sentence, but if that’s not what the question is looking for I wish it would reject it. Some of the early ones already do that, saying that that’s correct but not the point we’re focusing on with this sentence.

I’ve ended up having to switch vocab to J->E mode because of this. There are too many synonyms for things and right now Vocab hasn’t been developed enough to add hints and “correct, but not what we’re looking for” for most of them. I do think the sentences are helpful to learn usage, but right now that mode isn’t quite developed enough IMO.


For grammar points this starts happening around the time “naranai”/“ikenai”/“nakucha”/etc come round towards the end of N5.

This is especially vexing since “naranai” and “ikenai” are introduced in a way that I wouldn’t have thought of “ikenai” as formal - since I only had two comparison points. But then it keeps asking for it as “formal” whereas “naranai” sometimes gets the hint “written” in addition.

So basically I’m just guessing my way around which one they mean.

However, in many reviews where they ask specifically for “polite” or “standard” there are multiple answers allowed, “da” or “desu.” Which shouldn’t be necessary at all, it’s completely unambiguous. Whereas the variations of must and shouldn’t are subtler variations but keep asking for one specific variation that I have to riddle.

If they can’t come up with a better hint than “try a different grammar point/structure here” than maybe rework that part.


BTW, I have an idea how to improve this.

Let’s say there are several ways to say something and the degrees of politeness are pretty clear (so you can order them). Why not put them in the same grammar point or when asking, do the same question style as with the some of the polite/impolite pairs or the “te-forms” or the transitive/intransitive pairs:

… naranai-form → ______ (a little less formal)

And if the lesson had contained an order of how polite each is, you can naturally build a relationship between them in your brain. Just repeat the chart in each lesson and highlight the point you’re teaching.


Yeah, same. I struggled with なければいけない vs なければならない until I realized the hint says “almost always written” for ならない.

Now, when I get in this type of situation, I write down the competing answers along with their hint-text so I can identify what the key difference is.

These replies are super discouraging to me, someone who is learning Japanese from nothing, and using Bunpro as a tool to be able to understand and speak.

I don’t necessarily want to use my time to learn uncommon ways of speaking that might only be useful on tests.

It would be great to have a “street-smarts” track on Bunpro that would skip all such grammar points and have me focus on the core grammar actually used in the language.

Then, if I wanted to come back later and prep for a test, I could go back and add the uncommon phrases.


I have seen or heard every grammar point on Bunpro in media or in real life, barring a handful of N1 points but I will also presumably see those at some point as well. The higher up the levels you go the more written or formal grammar is taught. Everything on Bunpro is easily understandable for an educated native Japanese speaker. They just aren’t sure what Bunpro is testing for and don’t have the context that a normal user would so will normally revert to the simplest way of answering.

N5-N4 are basics and pretty much include no written language exclusive things. There’s some polite/formal stuff but it’s all extremely common in the spoken language.

N3 is still all extremely common although some things you’ll see more in writing perhaps however basically everything is used in the spoken language still.

N2 is mostly fairly common stuff. There are bits and pieces I’ve only seen in the written language I think but a large chunk is commonly used in the spoken language.

N1 actually has some things that really are firmly pretty much exclusively used in the written language. Having said that, lots of stuff is also used in the spoken language but the occasion for it is rarer. The main difficulty of N1 grammar is knowing when it should be used and what the nuance is compared to a simpler turn of phrase.

As I said, all the grammar is actually used but I do personally think a “basic conversation fast track” or something would be an interesting idea. Tae Kim’s guide is aimed roughly at that kind of thing so perhaps try the Tae Kim path, although I think it’s better to just stick to the regular Bunpro path as you’ll have to learn the rest of the basics at some point anyway.

I have no idea what your ability level is but I’d suggest finishing the N3 material if you haven’t already done so as that’s all pretty much used in the spoken language on a daily basis and then see how you feel. You could also try mining things you’ve heard spoken. If you intend to learn to read though then there are no grammar points you should avoid.

I hope that helped at least a bit and you can find what works for you.


Thank you for your very detailed reply, it was really helpful to read!

1 Like

Yeah this is very accurate. Japanese folk will poke fun at online programs like bunpro, of couse, much like us native english speakers poke fun at English learning sites teaching ideas like “this is a spectacular pen” instead of saying “this is a great pen.”
While yeah, some points are gaijin traps (貴方, 下手です[seems most japanese folk use 上手じゃない as it’s less-bad connotaton]) there are many points that aren’t that, and are used very very frequently.


Previously the hint included 行く or なら and て or ば
[#]なくてはいけない v. なくてはならない - Bunpro - Bunpro Community

Rant incoming:
Not sure why they made the hint more ambiguous. Now I have to try all combos.
the hints for もし, もしかしたら and なら are the same “it’s like ば”
also, all the ‘durings’
中 間 途中 ながら I think besides ながら they all want a の somtimes, and a に most of the time. Yesterday 途中に gave me a ‘take something away from the begining’

Onething I don’t like about E=> J is all this effort trying to understand hints. for most of n5 grammar I felt like I was getting great practice on fundimentals I already understood from taking genki 1 and 2 in college over 4 years.
Moving into new N3 grammar that I haven’t learned in class is much harder. I don’t know which bucket my ‘wrong answer’ is
1 change the meaning 2 sound stilted but understandable 3 どっちでもいい. Personally, I only care about errors which change the meaning. Like mixing up させる and られる.

I see a Japanese sentence
モナは、かがみくんにも水の魔女の巻貝を見せながら、金魚のギルの話や魔女の実習へ行く話をしました。And I think
So Mona showed Kagamikun a curly shell and told him about the talking goldfish and water witch while walking to school.
And google translate says “Mona also showed Kagami-kun the water witch’s snail and told her the story of Gil the goldfish and going to the witch’s training”
I, as an English speaker can see the part I don’t know is

I might change my reviews to reading for this reason.

Honestly I go so fed up that I switched the reviews to recognition and reveal rather than input. It’s annoying.