Understanding Word Order (Advice?)

You can skip this paragraph if you just want to read my question.
Half my time spent studying (as of now) focuses on listening and it’s really important that I’m making the most out of that time. Over my 100s of hours of listening to Japanese, I’ve zoned out countless times due to me not being able to understand what’s being said. Only in the last month did I finally find a technique to where I can focus the whole time even though a lot of information is still flying over my head. Despite knowing the amount of words I know, I just really struggle with hearing them - even words I know really well. What I finally realized though, is that sentences ordered the same way you’d find them in English I understand perfectly (given that I know every word/grammar being used). At first I just thought they were super easy to understand because I thought they had easy vocab/grammar and were just common phrases, but that I know now that isn’t the case.

My question is if anyone has any tips/advice for being able to improve comprehension of sentences ordered just completely different from how you’d see it in English.

Example: そんなに堂々と 言うことじゃないね
Rough translation: I don’t think that’s something you say so boldly.

If I were watching something with full focus and I heard this sentence, this is how I’d most likely hear it:
Even though I know all the words in this sentence, If I came across that while immersing I’d most likely just hear it like that and I’d have zero clue what’s being said. However, if I’m just reading I can read that sentence and make sense of it - but it still takes me some time to understand what it’s saying because I have to reorder all the words in my head. If the sentence is even longer, well, my brain just doesn’t like that.

Anyways, if anyone has any advice I’d really appreciate it, or if what I’m doing below is enough.
Also, I have a lot of time to put towards Japanese, so whatever advice you may have, time isn’t really an issue.

What I’m doing currently to try and improve:
When doing Bunpro I read the whole sentence and make sure I understand it and recognize the order everything is in. Also, I learn most of my vocab from audio sentence cards - so only audio on front (1N sentence) and as long as I understand the whole sentence then I pass the card. The sentences I use are fairly short, like the one I showed in the example sentence, because if it’s much longer than that then it takes me like 20-30 replays and then I’d be stuck in Anki for ages. But maybe it’d be more beneficial to practice with listening to longer sentences? Rather than hoping it starts clicking while I listen to native content? I’m not sure.


Approaching it from a listening perspective only might not be the best approach.

What helped me most with the orders of the sentences was reading and reading… eventually it starts feeling less weird.

Sorry I can’t be of more help, it’s something I learnt in a way it’s hard to explain or to know when it started happening, maybe others have more useful tips.


This has been a link I’ve seen used and also briefly used it myself when first starting off, because I too (like SO many others) got tripped up about there being a right or wrong way to phrase something. I’m just stepping out of the house now so this will be a short reply, but if there’s any further questions just throw 'em out there and I or someone else can help ya out!

It’s a long read, but something useful to have bookmarked imo


Part of this is because you can read as slowly as you want, whereas if you linger whilst listening you get left behind. So sometimes you just have to pause and relisten in order to hear something properly and other times you may even have to do some googling to find the context behind what’s been said. It seems annoying initially, because listening is normally something you do essentially passively in a language you’re fluent in, but I’m not sure there’s any way around it.

Essentially I think having to make an active effort to understand certain sentences especially if they don’t fit the paterns your brain is used to, is just a natural part of them becoming engrained and being able to hear them more passively.


Yeah, I’ve slowly started to realize this. When I first started learning I unfortunately wasn’t open to change after I had found a routine and I ended up wasting a ton of time because I didn’t fix stuff that wasn’t working. When I used to read, I just read. I didn’t stop at all, I was simply doing it to get reading practice, which helped me very little (apart from learning kanji - but Japanese isn’t just kanji and it took me forever to realize that this was such a huge focus in my studying).

But yeah, I think you’re 100% right I really just need to read more. To be honest, I’ve been kind of against reading for the past month just because I’d rather read sentences where I know most (if not all) the words that way I can really focus on just understanding how the whole sentence is put together - and this just isn’t possible if I’m reading native content. So I mean most of my reading comes from Bunpro when I do my reviews, and I have a fair amount of reviews a day.

I’m about 30% of the way through, and I really want to thank you for sending me this. I’m not gonna lie, for some reason I have just completely ignored particles up until now. I’m not entirely sure why, but I think the reason is because I just thought “oh this is beginner stuff, I know this” and I end up paying no mind to them because I just thought “why focus on something I already know?” when I it turns out I had a very surface level of understanding of what they did in a sentence. I’m very very thankful you sent me this, because who knows how long I would have went on not taking some time to figure this out.

That’s true. I get a little impatient some times, but I know that language learning is a long process, and I feel like building listening comprehension is probably the hardest part (at least that’s how it’s been for me). It’s just very difficult to see the progress you make since each day feels like the last (meant to say it feels like the day before it, not “the last day I’m going to study”).

Thank you! I know most of what you wrote, but I often times just forget because I’m making excuses for not being better.

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Hah! Don’t sweat it, I can’t tell you how many times I still get mixed up with particles myself! I should be reading a lot more to not have this problem, but it’s a really common thing. It’s super humbling, and also hilarious, how I can nail a lot of N3 passages and points on here but a lil’ に can confuse me hahaha. Embrace the suck, if you ain’t getting things wrong then you ain’t pushing yourself! :cowboy_hat_face:


Sometimes it’s good to read/listen to something below your current level in order to get some perspective, too much time spent at the edge of your ability gets a bit miserable.


Thanks for sharing this. Before this even if I could understand all of the parts I would have to guess how to put them together, this makes the idea of reading alot less intimidating.

No problemo friendo! Glad it could help you and others :slight_smile:

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