Is N3 Grammar easier than N4 Grammar?

Now that I’ve gone through almost all of N3 grammar, I have to agree that I found N3 to be a lot easier than N4. While this might also be related to the speed that I had when going through these grammar decks (I did one entire lesson per day for N4, about 18 grammar points per day, while for N3, I at first went with four days per lesson (one lesson has 22 grammar points on average) and later with two days per lesson), but I also think that I understood the N3 grammar easier and faster.

That being said, I still have to do a lot of practice with both decks :sweat_smile:

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I really don’t know how you speedrunners are managing all of these grammar points in one day. I can go through 2 new points a day and then I’m out because I know that I’m probably not going to remember everything by the time I have to do reviews. (Not that there’s anything wrong with trying to speedrun a language. I just personally can’t image doing so.)

As for the topic on hand, as someone who is currently slowly maneuvering through N4, I’m kinda looking forward to reaching N3 grammar points. Hopefully by then I can start braving easier native content!

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In a way N4 and N5 are difficult as it takes a bit of time to get used to how Japanese grammar / sentences work. Plus there are a lot of really imporant gramatical rules - eg verb endings.

N3 in a way is “easier” as all of the foundation already done, there are a lot “if I use this grammar point, my sentence flows better”. The difficulty here is more in nuance and having choice…

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As someone who did speedrun N5-N3 over maybe 3-5 months I ended up needing to reset as my grasp of everything was quite weak, even with a reasonable retention rate when doing reviews. I moved to Japan around when I finished N3 and realised that I couldn’t truly understand the grammar which I had learnt and thought that I “understood”, let alone use it. I think resetting wasn’t strictly necessary and if I hadn’t moved to Japan and I had remained in the safe bubble of at home self study then I also wouldn’t have noticed my weaknesses quite as much and they would have just been fixed over time. I gradually re-added N5-N3 (like 3 new a day or something which was reasonable as I had already studied it all) and then after that only “mined” grammar that I had already seen used or looked up.

I was also spending a fair chunk of time doing SRS at that early speedrun stage as well which I now would probably advise against. It feels extremely productive when you are a beginner since you feel like you are learning a lot (and just proportionally to what you already know you techinically are) but very often the only thing people are speedrunning is the SRS itself and not actually Japanese.

So likely it comes down to personal goals, expectations, etc. That ignores the very obvious question of how much time people spend studying each day which has a very large influence, clearly, but I would still advise those with a lot of time to study to still limit their SRS time to 30ish minutes and then spend the rest getting input or, for complete beginners, doing a textbook or reading a grammar guide or graded reader or something.

Basically, don’t feel bad - your Japanese is probably quite strong in some areas where speedrunners are weak. The achievements of speedrunners are impressive and some stand out as having achieved seriously impressive things but having been learning Japanese for a couple of years at a fast-but-still-sub-speedrunner pace and having watched online Japanese learning spaces that whole time I see more speedrunners come and go in a shining ball of burnout than I do see them actually get good. Very very few people get good to begin with (N1 is not “good” in this definition - I mean actually good) and full speedrunning isn’t sustainable for a long time, I mean years not months, if you have a life. As I am always saying on this forum, the main thing is to just keep pushing and not stop. The ones who make it are the ones who don’t quit.

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Wise words right there :point_up:.

I’ve expressed many times before, all speed running does is get you acquainted with the learnt material. You’re not truly learning, or more accurately acquiring, said knowledge. It’s also not a true measure of one’s Japanese ability, so don’t feel like you’re not progressing fast enough @Neon_Kitsune, because in reality (as @CursedKitsune said) you might actually be ahead in other ways than speed runners given you’re allowing yourself proper time to assimilate the information (especially if you’re putting it to practice outside of an SRS system).

This is one reason why I think textbooks like Genki and Quartet are great, given that they encourage practicing what you’ve learned. BunPro should be utilized as a reinforcement, not as the main source of knowledge (at least not in the beginning, until perhaps after N3 level). Obviously you’ll get more mileage out of textbooks with a Japanese partner, or a Japanese teacher. A classroom setting wouldn’t be ideal IMO, since it’s not as personal, but it might be better than working alone with no one to correct your mistakes.

Anyway, as they always say, learning Japanese is a marathon, not a race. Some people might get ahead at first, but the turtle wins in the end :turtle: .

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It doesn’t really bother me that people that started learning after me are “ahead” of me, or people going twice as fast as I am through material. They do their thing and I do mine. I would like to think that I’m experienced enough as a language learner to know what works for me and what doesn’t. I am trying to speed up things because I really want to finally properly get into native content. (And I am NOT one of those people who just brute forces their way through something way above their level.)

@Jose7822 I agree that textbooks are great that it gives extra practice and structure to learning. I’ve had the Genki textbooks for a while now, and I’ve just completed the first book and I’m moving through the second one now. I would get bored with the exercises and drift to something else, but then I realized that the exercises actually did help me understand grammar points better (I need a couple of resources before stuff finally sticks). I’m going to keep at it and hopefully finish Genki 2 in a reasonable amount of time, and move one into the intermediate swamp level.

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Back at the end of last year, I was working N4 and I had myself planned out to finish up N3 around September or so. Coming up to the end of the year, I had 70-someodd N4 left. Taking the week of Christmas off, I decided, “alright, let’s do this! 5-10 points a day, I’ll knock this N4 out!”

Day 1 - Have some literal humble pie, you casual.

I had no idea what I had signed myself up for. But I did get through them all XD

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Speedrunning is easy. I did 5 to 10 N4 lessons per day so I was done within a month.
The first SRS stages went pretty good since everything was still fresh in my head.
But during the later stages I kept making more and more mistakes and realized I didn’t fully understand a lot of grammar points at all. Just memorized the rules but I started to confuse things and forgot things very quickly. It became quite frustrating when I reached a point than nearly half of my reviews were incorrect.

So I stopped learning new grammar points, watching a lot of grammar videos on Youtube now and slowly I start to feel that things actually begin to click.

So yeah… that was a reality check. I did speedrun Wanikani and then 6000 vocab before this, I liked the challenge of doing that, but memorizing Kanji and vocab is completely different than learning and srsing grammar. Better to move on a bit more slowly and check out multiple resources explaining the more difficult and confusing grammar points.

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As soon as you start reading, 99% of the grammar you learn can be consolidated in the first few days/weeks so looking up grammar on bunpro whilst reading (after you’ve reached the point you wanna start reading) is definitely the most effective.
The improvement I’ve experienced since reading is huge, there really is no replacement.

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I did about 10 grammar points a week and found it to be a relatively maintainable pace. Probably could do 7 a week if it really becomes cumbersome.

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This is too true! As @SoreWaMaichiru wisely says, read as much as you can with BP and a good dictionary as companions. You will see that expressions and constructions will become more and more natural as you keep on reading.

Another thing which is helping me consolidating the learned grammar is writing. I do this exercise to try and express an idea as best I can with the grammar I know and see if I can introduce nuances. I miss the oversight of a patient teacher, though. But still, this exercise forces me to actively put the learned grammar into action.

Back to the OP, I’ve recently finished N3 and agree with most of what has been said though I would say that it actually looks easier but. I think that it takes a lot of time to fully grasp all the N3 grammar and put it to use in a natural way. I guess that will be more so for N2 and N1.

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very true and some of the nuances being slightly different. Can’t tell you how many times " have to" ive input in reviews like WHICH ONE DO YOU WANT

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I am still regoing through N4 so i am looking forward to N3. My first time going through bunpro i was doing it along side wanikani, so wasn’t ideal and was speadrunning to some point. Reached i believe either N3 or the beginning of N2. I Reset and now. I am doing basically same way i used to in wanikani(reached level 60 there) TAKE YOUR TIMEE!! kind of approach ,
so i really want to go faster but i think enjoying with eagerness to go much faster is okay for now. I am also doing it with vocabulary語彙. Both are in N4 level rn

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N4 was easier than N5, and so far N3 is even easier than N4, minus a few synonyms that have taken some time to separate. I think this is because N5 not only gives you the basic foundation for the language, but also contains most of the conjugations. N4 was more expressions, adverbs, etc. than different forms. These are much easier to learn than the て/た endings for example.

Also, N4 has much more complex sentences than N5, but N3 is only mildly more complex than N4. I wonder if N2/N1 will have run-on sentences or full paragraphs.

Not always, but sometimes they do tend to be longer. However, they are definitely more difficult, mostly due to the vocabulary. I think the grammar points themselves aren’t that hard.

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That’s basically what I expected then.

I would not think about it in terms of easiness or difficulty. N3 Grammar could be easier but if you lack N4 foundation, it is harder.

Also, as you progress the sentence structure begins to be complex. Sentences are longer and you’ve got to be able to detect the grammar structures that divide the sentence to understand it correctly.

One important point is that you might memorize all of N4 grammar points but if you don’t recall them in the appropriate moment, when they are necessary, N3 will be much more difficult because you’d be missing the basics. For example, if you are writing an essay but you can’t recall N4 points to convey the nuance you need and really want to say, then even when you’ve memorized the points, N3 will be more difficult.

If you can recall N4 appropriately, then you can focus on N3 points… But to be honest, that doesn’t really happen in practice. As you progress through N3 points, you will be cementing N4 points. Nothing lives in a vacuum, it is all connected.

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