Checking out

I first looked into iKnow over a month ago, as I’d heard it was a great tool to learn vocabulary. At first glance, the website interface looks great – that is important to me if I’m going to spend any time on it. The soothing sky blue (it literally is a sky background) helps me focus during drills. But it is not a free service. I had to decide if it’s worth it for me. I could, after all, just import these decks into Anki for free.

Interface clean and easy to understand, attractive colors


My current iKnow Courses

This service offers several Japanese courses to get you well on your way to mastering Japanese, up to Japanese Core 6000. Right off the bat, you should take a placement test to determine which course you should take. At my beginner level, I was sent to the very beginning courses – kana and Core 1000.

Highlighted in yellow below are the three courses I’m currently working on. Two courses in Master Hiragana and Katakana (easy review for me), and a more challenging course of Japanese Core 1000 – the top 1,000 most commonly used words in Japanese.

iKnow's Japanese course offerings

iKnow’s Japanese course offerings

Master Hiragana/Katakana

I immediately starting using these to solidify my kana skills. Before using this service, I’d estimate I was instantly accurate with ~97% hiragana, and ~90% katakana. I just needed exposure to the ones I don’t see a lot. My goal is to instantly recognize and be able to type kana accurately, as I do in words in English, so the iKnow! Master Hiragana and Master Katakana courses are just what I needed.

I usually just do the basic iKnow training drills, first one in the option below. They call their drill types “Apps”. In the first drill type (I am not comfortable calling them apps), they show you a character, you hear it, then you type it. You also get a drills where you choose it from a list of answers. Sometimes you don’t get the audio. I do these very fast, as my goal here isn’t learning them, it’s more as a review to improve speed and accuracy.

Drill App choices

Drill App choices

It uses spaced repetition drills, like most of the services I use. I have to admit I am a bit confused when today it said “Course Completed” with my Hiragana course. I haven’t spent enough time to master anything at all, much less move all terms to “Strong”. It was moved to a different “Review” tab, I’m not sure why. My Study Progress in Hiragana is 100% though, so I guess I studied them enough so they assume I know my Hiragana. I’ll soon reach that in Katakana too, I purposely was going a bit slower with that one.

Master Hiragana course going well

Master Hiragana and Katakana courses going well

Japanese Core 1000: Step 1

Out of this Core 1000, they introduce 100 at a time, so I’m on Step 1. My first exposure was over a month ago with these and it was just too overwhelming for me, I couldn’t continue. So much kanji and grammar I just didn’t know, I thought I’d come back when I knew more.

I revisited this week and it is now much more manageable. I’m going to take it very slow though! I’ll do five at a time for now, until my grammar gets more advanced. I am required to be able to put whole sentences together, and there are tenses I’m barely familiar with (haven’t officially learned yet).

At WaniKani Level 10, I do know all the kanji and vocabulary they’ve given me so far, you can see samples below.

Japanese Core 1000 - sampling of some of the first words

Japanese Core 1000 – sampling of some of the first words

As for using them in sentences, I can just barely figure it all out, lol. I know all this will be super easy for me in a few months worth of study, but I’m only on Month 3 of learning Japanese right now.

Here’s some sample sentences I am to put together, thanks to both NihongoMaster and WaniKani, I can tackle these, but it’s all so very new to me! Putting it all together is a little daunting, but I know this is great exposure for me.

わたし は え を みる の が すき です。
I like looking at pictures.

わたし は ともだち の ところ に とまった。
I stayed at my friend’s place for the night.

なつやすみ に おばあちゃん の うち へ いきました。
I went to my grandma’s house during summer vacation.

Sentence Trainer App

When choosing their Sentence Trainer app, they quiz you on various things, listening, reading, and writing sentences. In one example, you hear the entire sentence, then fill in the missing blank. Well that’s easy enough for me!  They offer up to three hints if you have trouble.

Fill in the blank

Fill in the blank

My next drill was a bit more challenging, I hear a sentence and have to type it all out myself!

Listen and type!

Listen and type!

I needed to use one hint – they gave me “まいあさ” – every morning. I should’ve known that, but just haven’t been exposed to the actual word yet in my studies.

I drink coffee every morning.

I drink coffee every morning.

Next drill type, they give me the English translation and I have to sort out the Japanese sentence. This is a simple one!

Translate into Japanese

Translate into Japanese

So for these first five exercises, I got them all right, and used one hint. Time was inflated because I took screenshots and came back here to blog about it!

Yay, I love Sentence Trainer!

Yay, I love Sentence Trainer!

Here are the sentences I worked with for my first attempt with Sentence Trainer app.

Sentences I worked with



Motivating with Progress tracking and achievements!

I am definitely enjoying the service, it’s getting me exposure and practice to so much. I love how it motivates you by keeping a calendar and tracking your “Study Streak”. Right now my Study Streak is 19 days! You also earn Achievements.

I will need more work with the Core courses before I can give a better description on how it’s really working for me, but I signed up for a Pro account and am going to give it a few months.

If you register for a 12 month Pro account and use this link, you’ll get three months free. I’m already on a plan and don’t get any months free, but at least it could help you!

iKnow Referral Link

Are you already using iKnow or have you tried it in the past? What are your experiences?

Nihongo Master Verbs

What I’ve Learned 4/24 – 5/4

Here’s what I’ve done in the past week and a half!

WaniKani - Level 9 Kanji

heavyじゅう, ちょうおも, かさ, え
loseま, お
thingぶつ, もつもの
newしんあたら, あら, にい
beauty, beautifulび, みうつく
expressひょうあらわ, おもて
part, department, club
action, matter, thingこと, つか
accept, receiveじゅ
truth, realityじつ
mutualそう, しょうあい
roof, shop, storeおく
needようい, かなめ
determineてい, じょうさだ
degrees, occurrenceど, たくたび
peace, japanese styleわ, おなご, やわ
clothes, clothingふく
begin, startはじ
sufferingくる, にが

Instead of showing just my current WaniKani level Kanji, I’ll also show the vocabulary I’m working on for level 9. There are over 100 entries, so the table defaults to showing 10 entries, you can tab through them all if you like.

WaniKani Level 9 Vocabulary

予定よていa plan, plan
泳ぐおよぐto swim
勝者しょうしゃwinner, victor
和風わふうjapanese style
待つまつto wait
乗るのるto ride
美人びじんbeautiful woman
ふくclothes, clothing
お客さんおきゃくさんguest, visitor, customer
用事ようじerrand, business
中学校ちゅうがっこうmiddle school, junior high school
待たせるまたせるto make someone wait, to keep someone waiting, to make wait, to keep waiting
毎度まいどeach time, frequently, every time
勝負しょうぶmatch, showdown, contest
仮にかりにtemporarily, suppose
相談そうだんconsultation, discussion, advice
本屋ほんやbookstore, book shop
不自由ふじゆうdiscomfort, inconvenience, disability, impairment, poverty, destitution
全部ぜんぶall, entire, whole
新年しんねんnew year
発表はっぴょうannouncement, presentation
記事きじarticle, news story, report, account, news article
仮定かていassumption, hypothesis
通りとおりavenue, street, road, way
気を付けてきをつけてbe careful, take care
苦いにがいbitter tasting, bitter
体重たいじゅうbody weight
肉屋にくやbutcher shop, meat shop, meat store
対談たいだんconversation, dialogue, talk
決定けっていdecision, determination
二重にじゅうdouble, dual
楽勝らくしょうeasy victory, easy win
重要じゅうようessential, important, necessary
魚屋さかなやfish shop, fish market, fish dealer, fish store, fishmonger
発売はつばいfor sale, selling, item for sale, sale
おもてfront, surface, exterior, face, outside, appearance
客室きゃくしつguest room
高校生こうこうせいhigh school student, high schooler
家事かじhousework, chores
何度なんどhow many times, how often, what temperature
大事だいじimportant, valuable, serious matter
和食わしょくjapanese style food, japanese food
必要ひつようnecessary, needed, essential
苦しいくるしいpainful, agonizing, agonising
相手あいてpartner, companion
弱々しいよわよわしいweak looking, frail, weak seeming, seemingly weak
住民じゅうみんresidents, citizens
〜屋store, shop
必勝ひっしょうsure victory, certain victory, sure win, sure victory, certain win
泳ぎおよぎswimming, swim
茶屋ちゃやtea shop, tea store, tea house
〜部department, club, category
和室わしつjapanese style room
本物ほんものthe real thing, real deal, the real deal, real thing, genuine article, the genuine article
持つもつto hold, to bring, to carry
ことthing, matter, action
今度こんどthis time, next time
返事へんじreply, response
付くつくto be attached
実力じつりょくtrue strength, true ability, true power
勝つかつto win
受けるうけるto receive, to accept, to catch
和服わふくjapanese style clothes, japanese clothing, japanese style clothing, japanese clothes
始めにはじめにin the beginning, to begin with, to start with
始まるはじまるto begin, something begins, to start, something starts
弱虫よわむしweakling, coward
始めるはじめるto begin, to start, to begin something, to start something
小学校しょうがっこうelementary school, primary school, grade school
名物めいぶつfamous product, special product, famous goods, special goods, famous item, special item
世界せかいthe world, society, the universe
見付けるみつけるto find, to find something
要点ようてんmain point, gist, main idea, essence
負けるまけるto lose, to be defeated
白黒しろくろblack and white, white and black
乗せるのせるto give a ride, to give someone a ride, to place on
通すとおすto let pass, to overlook, to continue, to keep, to make way for, to persist in
欠かすかかすto miss, to fail, to fail to attend
要るいるto need
返すかえすto return, to return something
使うつかうto use
事実じじつtruth, fact, reality
じつtruth, reality
部分ぶぶんportion, section, part
教えおしえteaching, instruction, teachings, lesson, doctrine
付近ふきんneighborhood, neighbourhood, vicinity, environs, nearby, locality
表すあらわすto express
ハート形ハートがた, はーとがたheart shaped
丁度ちょうどexactly, just
具合ぐあいcondition, health
生物せいぶつliving things, creatures, bio
送るおくるto send
平和へいわpeace, harmony
見物けんぶつsightseeing, sightseer, watching, watcher, viewing, viewer
金持ちかねもちrich person, rich, wealthy



I spent several days reviewing particle usage due to getting too many drills wrong relating to particles. I’ve increased my accuracy a lot, but still need to work on them more. I caved and made a OneNote on particle grammar (after I said I only write down notes in a notebook).  Now I have pages for each particle, complete with examples!

My OneNote notes on Particles

My OneNote notes on Japanese Particles


I also decided to add all the verbs I’ve learned in NihongoMaster, since I can search and sort the tables. Here is my Godan verb page.

Nihongo Master Verbs

Nihongo Master – Godan Verbs


I didn’t think I’d get much done with all this particle and verb review, but luckily, all the lessons covered kanji or vocab I already learned in WaniKani. But in NihongoMaster, I get to see and work with them in actual sentences!

You’ll notice a lot of my grammar lessons involve counters in both NihongoMaster and Human Japanese. Japanese have counters for everything it seems! You can’t just say two cats or two papers. There are special “counter” words for everything.

NihongoMaster Lessons

  • Combining two ideas using verb stems, particle に, and motion verbs:
    Topic は Location に {Object を Verb Stem に} 行きます
  • Kanji used in days of the week:  (moon for Monday),  (fire for Tuesday),  (water for Wednesday),  (tree for Thursday),  (gold for Friday),  (soil for Saturday) and  (for weekday)
  • Days of the month counters
  • Months and, combined with days of the month, how to describe a date
  • かぞく (family) and Extended family terms – おばさん (aunt), おじさん (uncle), おばあさん (grandmother), おじいさん (grandfather) – and using these when addressing strangers. Siblings: いもうと (younger sister) and おとうと (younger brother)
  • Kanji:  (come, next),  (now),  (year),  (week) and combining these words for vocabulary
  • People counters, ordinal numbers, “the best”
  • も particles
  • Kanji:  (company, corporation),  (see),  (high, tall),  (yen, circle),  (every) and related vocabulary


Still mostly reviewing all previous chapters, trying to “Master” all the quizzes. But most of the below is a review on what I’ve already learned with NihongoMaster or WaniKani.

  • Chapter 32: Counting Objects
    Teaches how to use numbers in sentences, which requires devices called counters, which are akin to English words like a loaf of bread, a pound of flour, and a bottle of wine.
  • Chapter 33: But…
    Examines how to create compound sentences with the negative conjunction.
  • Chapter 34: Adjectives
    Introduces adjectives in Japanese, along with the surprising fact that, like verbs, they conjugate to indicate tense.
  • Chapter 35: More Adjectives
    A vocab building lesson that adds dozens more adjectives to the student’s repertoire. Includes a dialogue.

JapanesePod101 Listening Practice

I finally settled on a learning track and finished Absolute Beginner Season 1 (25 lessons) and am a quarter of the way through Absolute Beginner Season 2. I plan to go over what I learned in more detail in another post.

Help me!

Particle confusion!

Learning Japanese has been fun, even addicting, just the right challenge for me. But last week, I encountered my first stumbling block (out of many to come, I’m sure). Particles!

Particle confusion

Particle confusion

It all makes sense at first, I’ve had no problem understanding the usage of each particle when grammar lessons first introduce them. But then more particles are introduced. And various usages of each particle. Some have the same usage, some slightly different. To the park. Through the park. Until the park. Listen to music. Listen to your mom. In the kitchen. In the library we actively did something. Yumiko ate the ice cream. Yumiko ate the ice cream.

Each explanation makes sense, but when it comes time to choose the right particle in a long sentence, I feel like I make one or two educated guesses, but have no clue for the third. Sometimes I have no clue at all. 🙁

It is times like these where first I need to take a breath, halt any new grammar learning, and take a comedic break.

How to use は and が

I love this guy Dogen!


How about you? Can you guess the right particles for this sentence? Let us know how you did!

Question #1: ここ___何____れんしゅし____きましたか。

For this week, I plan to halt new grammar lessons and focus on mastering these particular particles in common sentences: に、で、が、を and more. Maybe I will share a few tips in the blog!


A Wild Pikachu Appears -To Demonstrate Positions

To express positions in Japanese, we use the particle の to link a noun to a position word. The lovable Pikachu will demonstrate these positional phrases by hiding in various places.

Before we start, let’s familiarize ourselves with the grammar involved.

Post-position Grammar

Japanese is a post-positional language, unlike English, which generally uses prepositions. Both preposition and post-positions combine a noun (noun phrase). As determined by the prefix (pre/post) – the preposition comes before and the post-position comes after the noun phrase. Since Japanese uses post-positions, the noun comes first, and  the position word follows. The particle の connects the two. This is the particle used when describing possession, which makes sense here.

[noun] + + [position word] + (に or で)


Right of the Flowers – 花の右

Here Pikachu is hiding to the right of two pink tulip flowers. Using the formula above, the noun flowers (はな) comes first, then の, and finally the position word, right (みぎ).

Full sentence? ピカチュウは花の右にあります。

To be honest, I’m not sure whether to use いる (animate) or ある (inanimate) for this Pikachu. Since this one is stuffed and doesn’t move, I’ll use ある.

Pikachu is right of the flowers. 花のみぎ

Pikachu is right of the flowers. 花のみぎ

Sound fun? Let’s learn more! Below is a table with the most common positional words. As with most tables on my blog, you can conveniently sort and search. I’m only using the most basic nouns that hopefully you will know if you have a few months of Japanese under your belt.

Position Nouns

うえueabove; over; top
したshitabelow; under; bottom
なかnakamiddle; inside
まえmaefront; before
後ろうしろushirobehind; back
そばsobanext to
へんhenaround here; near
あいだaidain between

Left of the Stone – 石の左

Next up, one of the first kanji I ever learned – 石 – stone. Pikachu is to the left of the stone.


Gawa (側) means “side”, so 左側 means left side.

Left of the stone - 石の左

Left of the stone - 石の左

When taking these pictures, I know now that I should’ve spent the extra time making the noun a different color than the positional nouns, but I had a frantic dog (you will see at the end) going crazy in the backyard wondering what I was up to.

Under the Tree – 木の下

I felt like an idiot scooting around on my belly to get this picture and make sure the lowest swooping branches of the tree were included, just like the kanji character!

Under the tree - 木の下着

Under the tree – 木の下着

In Front of the Gate – ゲートの前に

He’s small, but he’s in the picture, almost buried in leaves!

In Front of the Gate

In Front of the Gate

I had to stop here, this is where my dog was able to get too close to Pikachu… I don’t want this to happen…

Pikachū wa watashi no inu no kuchi no naka ni arimasu.
Pikachu is inside my dog’s mouth!

My dog thinks any stuffed animal is her domain and supposed to be ripped to shreds. 🙁

Not safe around inu!

Not safe around inu!

Inside the Poké Ball  – ポケボールの中

Rather, let’s put him in a place where he’d be more comfortable… Until next time!


I Choose You!

I Choose You!

Thanks to…

Thank you to my assistant, my lovely daughter who went around with Pikachu and a basket to place all the chalkboards while I shot the photos! Everytime I called her “Assistant”, she asked me if I was going to call her Christina next (from Stein’s Gate’s Kurisa).


Human Japanese app review

Human Japanese is one of my most favorite learning apps, I have it on both my phone and tablet. The software is available for any platform – PC, Mac, Android, iPhone, Windows phone. There are two versions – Basic and Intermediate. You don’t have to know any Japanese to start, the Basic will teach you all the hiragana and katakana and get you up to reading sentences like below in no time. Intermediate will introduce kanji and advanced grammar.

Human Japanese

Human Japanese – Chapter 30

Voice Recordings and stroke animations

All kana, vocabulary words and sentences have voice recordings. The hiragana and katakana lessons include stroke animations and tips on writing the characters. Mini-quizzes inside these lessons will quiz you on your reading skills, allowing you to hear correct pronunciation.

Sentence “Ingredients” Feature

As you learn to put together sentences, you’ll be able to click the sentence for a voice recording, or click below and show the English translation. To the side is a yellow note, which opens up an “Ingredients” window that breaks the sentence down to all the parts of the sentence, in order. You’ll see all the nouns, particles, adjectives, adverbs, verbs, and more. Below is an example for “There’s a cat on top of the fridge.”
ねこが れいぞうこの うえに います。

Human Japanese - Ingredients

Ingredients breakdown for ねこが れいぞうこの うえに います。

Chapter Review Quizzes

At the end of most chapters are a Chapter Review quiz and any related quizzes (kana, vocabulary).  Each of these quizzes has 10 questions. You get points for answering each question correctly, which increases your XP and level. You can revisit each quiz to get more points, up to a total of 4 times, and can “master” the question. You can see in these screenshots, I’m currently:

Rank: Adept
Level: 14
XP: 2751

Chapter quizzes will unlock the next chapter. This ensures you understood the material before you move on to new lessons, but you can disable this feature and move around freely if you like. One quick note: You can see above that I unlocked all these chapters within a few days of each other. That is because I got a new Samsung tablet this month, so I ran through all the chapters real quick to “unlock” them. I didn’t need to, but I like to see my progress, so I have “Unlock as you go” checked in the Preferences.

Here is a sample question, testing on the vocabulary word “right”. I hope I get it right! (I did.)

Human Japanese quiz

Human Japanese quiz

Japanese Culture

Some chapters are culture lessons, so in the basic Human Japanese version, you will learn about geography, ofuru (bath), trains, countryside, and more. They have stunning pictures and wonderful descriptions of fascinating Japanese culture.

Japanese onsen

Japanese onsen


Once you buy Human Japanese on one platform, you can download it to any device that uses that platform. So since I got the Android version for my tablet, everytime I update it I can install it again on my Android phones and tablets without paying again. However, it won’t save your progress, at least not at this time. It is on their future feature list to synchronize user data. You can however have multiple profiles on one device, allowing family members to also learn! I used to homeschool, so I can see this being very handy for families with multiple children using it.

Need more  Practice?

As I mentioned earlier, you can always go back to a specific chapter to “master” the questions from that chapter. There are also three “Freestyle” cumulative reviews, so you can indicate if you want more practice in vocab, kana, or numbers. I just tried the Vocab freestyle quiz, set to a specific chapter and all previous chapters (you could also choose just one chapter or just the questions you miss the most). And I leveled up to 15!


Like I’ve mentioned before, I read a bit of Human Japanese a bit every day. It reads like a book to me, with beautiful pictures and backgrounds, so I curl up with the app at night and use it as a review for vocabulary and grammar I’ve learned in my other programs I use. The interface is very soothing, yet very user-friendly.


You can purchase it on Amazon for your PC, or via the app store on the platform you use. Most offer a “Lite” version where you can try out the first 8 lessons for free.

My Personal Progress

My progress with Human Japanese has been steady this spring the past few months. There are 45 total chapters and I’m currently on chapter 30. I look forward to ordering Human Japanese Intermediate and seeing more kanji in my readings as well!


Slowly, but surely, I’m going to try to write in more Japanese, as I learn more words and grammar. I hope the sentence below sentence means: I am busy with my Japanese studies!


The day kicked off when I woke up to 120 WaniKani drills! That just could be my highest drill count yet. I had just leveled up late last night, and it took a few hours to complete all the new lessons and the first round of reviews. I’m so happy to be level 7 though, I’ve made it a goal to try to listen and read more Japanese (easy level) outside my studies once I’m level 10, so that’s one step closer.

WK Overlay Script

As I learn the new kanji, I get to play with the user scripts I installed. The one below is called WK Overlay and it displays the appropriate radical or kanji tags. Of course, they’re added after you answer the drill, otherwise that would be cheating! I find this helps reinforce the building blocks which helps me figure words out with those radicals/kanji next time.

So “Summer” was a new kanji presented to me for level seven. Most of the time the radical/kanji tags start off all in a clump, but for the kanji character page, you can move them around. Here I separated them a tiny bit, so you can see the radicals better. I chose this kanji at random.

And then I move them around all nice and neat, near what they represent, while memorizing the little mnemonic I’m given. For Kanji, they provide radical tags, with the radicals outlined in blue.

WaniKani’s mnemonic to help me remember “Summer” kanji

The eye leaf grows only in the winter. Every other leaf, however, will do the opposite, which is to grow in the summer.

Here’s another example for “school”.

You find your father with a lid on his head, up in a tree. He yells down at you. “Hey! Welcome to your first day of school!”

The stories may seem silly, if you’re not used to mnemonics. But they work!

Here is a more complex vocabulary word (in a higher level), this was a sample on the script page. This script will add black kanji tags to vocabulary words.

My Own Mnemonics

Also, as I learn new kanji/vocab, I get tested right away. If I know something is definitely not going to be memorable enough for me, I don’t hesitate to think up my own mnemonic. Below I added my own “Reading Note” to remember the kanji “Weak”, both its meaning and reading, it’s on the bottom of this image. Poor Jacku, Rose should’ve been a bit less weak…

Kanji for weak

“I’ll never let go, *Jacku*! Oh wait, I’m too WEAK, goodbye Jacku!”


Once I was done with so many hours of WaniKani, I went to their forums, and somebody started a thread asking how many KaniWani drills you had piled up. I don’t think I ever covered KaniWani in detail on my blog yet, I’ll do that another time, but it’s basically a fan-created site that tests WaniKani in reverse.

I hadn’t done KaniWani much, so I had 418 drills to do! I only started it right before vacation and was frustrated that it took time to get any to “Master” level. (Anybody who uses WK knows you just need patience, drills are spaced out. No matter how good you are, you won’t “Burn” your kanji in just a month of starting.)

A few MORE hours of working in KaniWani, and I got it down to 233. (I actually got it down to 140, but of course more drills came to join the fun.) And look! I started to “Master” my first words!

A lot of similar words with the same or very similar meanings always trip me up in KaniWani. And some just tripped me up anyway. For example, the kanji for “Sell” confused me, in the vocab words, it almost always had the り kana after the う. I hadn’t seen that before…

Then, lo and behold, in NihongoMaster, I learned the kanji for sell, and they showed me the polite form of うる was うり! (To be honest, I had just learned about the various forms of verbs last week, so it all makes sense now.) But I don’t think I will ever miss that change again.

Progressing in NihongoMaster

Speaking of which, I also worked very hard today to get to level 10 in NihongoMaster. Levels don’t mean as much here, as your points slide with inactivity, even after a few hours. I think it does show how hard you work with their program, all the top learners are in the level 20s. I feel like such a newb at 9. I do know you lose points steadily, and I’m not sure yet how to optimize points gain. Do the points start to drop after a certain timeframe of inactivity?I emailed their support last week to ask and they never answered. I’ll probably ask the question in their forums. I get about 100 drills a day in this program, although it’s hard to tell with timed SRS drills – I do them several times a day as they pop up.

You may think I’m crazy for using so many different programs to learn Japanese, but I very carefully choose my main ones I work with everyday. I love how new concepts are reinforced in various ways, whether it’s conjugating the verb tenses, seeing the kanji, grammar explanations and more.








DuoLingo to offer Japanese, now taking testers

Every year I check duoLingo to see if they offer Japanese, and not until this spring have I had any hope. I knew it was in the works, and was about to post about that, but today I heard that DuoLingo is now taking Alpha Testers for their new Japanese course. You need a duolingo account and an iOS device. You don’t need to know Japanese.

duoLingo seeking Alpha Testers

Interested? Head to duoLingo discussion for more information and to sign up.

DuoLingo offering Japanese soon

DuoLingo offering Japanese soon, not an official banner, I added flag/greeting

I was so excited, I took like an hour to make the above banner just for this post. (I downloaded their official Duo bird and logo, then added my flag and greeting. If this isn’t ok, let me know!) I’m an avid Reddit lurker, and saw someone mentioned that it is in the works! It is in the duoLingo Incubator now, with an estimated Completion Date of May 15, 2017. I’d love to be done with their Spanish course completely by then, so I can focus on the Japanese one exclusively when I’m on duoLingo.

Now we can look forward to learning phrases like “Genki desu ka.” and “Watashshi wa gakusei desu.”

duoLingo offering Japanese

duoLingo offering Japanese

I just noticed that there is a duoLingo subreddit... It’s so much fun watching all the redditors commenting, and hearing Overwatch’s Hanzo crying out his ult!

Ryuu-ga, Wa-ga-te-ki-wo, Ku-ra-u.

“Let the dragon consume my enemies.”

Back to duoLingo’s newest offering… I hear they will be offering Chinese this year as well! People have been asking for these languages for so long, but due to the characters these languages use, it was difficult to offer. So… do you think they will teach Japanese in romaji?


Ko-So-A-Do pattern word group

The Ko-So-A-Do/K-S-A-D  Demonstrative word groups are one of the first things you’ll learn in Japanese grammar. When I first saw them, I thought, hey, I got it, no problem. The new spatial differentiation isn’t too hard to understand, even though we don’t use it in English. But then more sets were introduced! And of course, several rules to keep in mind! Here it all is in one place, complete with adorable puppy pics!

K-S-A-D prefixes

These are the four prefixes. You’ll see them everywhere, so it’s best to get familiar with them right off the bat. “ko-“, “so-“, “a-” and “do-”

  • – this (near the speaker; close enough to touch)
  • – that (near the listener; or somewhat close, yet not close enough to touch)
  • – that over there (far from both speaker or listener; off in the distance)
  • – question word

These prefixes are attached to the following ko-so-a-do series – pronouns, adjectives, locations, “kind/type”, and general directions.


Pronouns (-re) -これ、それ、あれ、どれ・どっち

Use these to say this one, that one, that over there, or which one.

これはおいしいです。This is delicious.
それは何ですか。What is that?
あれはりんごです。That over there is an apple.

English doesn’t distinguish between the last two, we call them both “that”. So keep in mind the perceived distance from the speaker.

The question words distinguish between the number of items.
どれですか。(Which one is it? (three or more items)
どっちですか。Which one is it? (two or more items)

Yes, there are two words to ask “which?”! And I keep mixing these two words up! In any book I’m learning them in, I always choose the opposite one first, maybe because I think it has three syllables, it has to do with 3 or more items.

どちらがすきですか。(Which of these two do you like?)

どれが私のほんですか。Which of these (of 3 or more) are your book?

I figure some of you might be using one of these Japanese grammar books, haha!

Keep in mind since are nouns, they stand by themselves. We can’t say これねこ  (this cat). We can however, say it with the adjective form, covered next.


Adjectives/determiners (-no) ーこの、その、あの、どの

Words in this set are used as adjectives, and must attach to nouns; they are called determiners. Now we can say “this cat” or “that house over there” or “which ____”.

Here my dog is sitting right in front of me with a treat balanced on her house.

このはいいです。”This dog is good.”


This dog – この犬

My daughter is standing next to the dog now, holding a treat for the dog. I am no longer close enough to touch my dog. You could also use this when you’re relating a story and referring back to someone or something that has recently been mentioned.

そのは白です。 “That dog is white.”

Now our dog is not close to either of us, we have her sitting off in the distance.

あのは私たちです。”That dog over there is ours.”


Location – ここ、そこ、あそこ、どこ

ここは机です。(This is a desk.)
そこはえんぴすです。(There is a pencil.)
あそこはいすです。(Over there is a chair.)
トイレはどこですか。(Where is the toilet?)

Don’t forget – “that over there” – also takes the “so”, making it あど. These are pronouns, so they cannot be attached to nouns.


General Directions (-chira) – こちら、そちら、あちら、どちら

These are also pronouns, you can use them for asking directions or showing the way to something.

コンビニはこちらです。The convenience store is this way.
あにめ大会はそちらです。The anime convention is that way.
どちらですか。 Which way is it?

You can also use this to politely introduce people.

きりとさん、こちらはあすなです。(Kirito, this is Asuna.)

Kind Set/attributives (-nna) – こんな、そんな、アンナ、どんな

When you want to say what something looks like, you’d use this set. Unlike the previous sets, these do not refer to “this” specifically, but what this is like, (which sort of).  These must be followed by a noun.

そんなねこがすきです。(I like that kind of cat.)
さとりさんはどんなひとですか。(What kind of person is Satori?)

gold balls kanji

The things I google – Tanuki

Tanuki By Iwanafish- Cropped.jpg


The Japanese raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides viverrinus), also known as tanuki in Japanese, is a subspecies of the Asian raccoon dog.

Kanji Breakdown

And why did I google this? Let’s just say the Kanji to learn one of my new words is composed of “Ball” and “Gold”. And I feel very sorry for the poor Tanuki!

gold balls kanji

Kanji: Gold, Balls

I’ve been starting to read the example sentences in WaniKani. Some of them are hilarious! These are using my new vocab word, although they don’t translate 100% correctly in a translator.



Degrees of Understanding – in Japanese

I know kung fu! Well, not really, but I now know how to express my varying degrees of understanding. Well, not really either, but it’s a start!

From MemeSuper - I don't understand


More on trying to remember words I just learned, so let’s use it here! From my latest NihongoMaster lesson… I’ll use what I learned on describing the lesson itself. If you don’t know much Japanese yet, わかりません means “don’t understand”, and the blue bolded words are the new adverbs to show just how much I don’t understand.

Before the Lesson

Sight unseen.

ぜんぜんわかりません。(I) don’t understand (anything) at all.  absolutely nothing.

After Skimming Lesson

I always do this just to see how much I know or to get first exposure to new concepts.

ほとんどわかりません。(I) don’t understand hardly (anything).
very, very little.

After slowly reading lesson

My first true attempt at absorbing.

ほんとうにわかりません。(I) really don’t understand.
not much.

After Lesson Drills

A few times with the lesson in drills, I can narrow in on the lesson and clarify.

そんなにわかりません。(I) don’t understand that well.
at least not THAT much.

After Taking Notes

I usually take notes after some drill experience with the new concepts, so I can highlight what I need to clarify for myself.

あまりわかりません。(I) don’t understand very well.
but still some.

After Lots of Practice!


And after all that, it looks like I’ll never learn Japanese at this slow pace of understanding! Most lessons I understand fairly quickly, it’s just a case of remembering new vocab and gaining experience with new, strange concepts. That’s the key, seeing it, hearing it, using it, trying it out. Explaining it in this blog is just one tool to pull it all together.


To recap, adverbs of degrees, red being only negative, blue being either positive or negative:

  1. ぜんぜん zenzen = not at all
  2. ほとんどhotondo = mostly, hardly (may be tempting to use in positive sentences, but don’t do it)
  3. ほんとうにhontouni = really, truly
  4. そんなにsonnani = not so much
  5. あまりamari = not very, not much
  6. たくさん takusan = a lot

I won’t be writing words in romaji very much, to be honest, they look more foreign to me than the kana/kanji. All my educational resources I’m using don’t use romaji at all.