Japanese with memrise

May I ask some of you that have past n5 and n4 in Japanese, how it helped you and if you can speak and understand it better than when you began with zero knowledge.
Would you recommend keep practicing with memrise.

Memrise is for getting familiar with what you need to know. You then cement, or at least strengthen, this familiar knowledge by using Japanese in “real-life” situations (reading manga, watching TV, writing and talking to people). Memrise helps me a lot to get the information “almost” to the top of my brain and then real life makes it get to the actual top. If that makes any sense. (My Japanese courses on here have no audio, so I can’t speak for that part.)

I’d say to keep using Memrise. It’s not made for teaching grammar or kanji handwriting, so you have to do that using something else, but it’s great for vocabulary. Just keep in mind that you should learn kanji individually on top of your normal studies (kanji are individual words and they’re in that specific word for a reason, they’re not just random nonsense as some sources would like to claim).

But, you can also be the type of person who hates flashcards and only wants to learn by using Japanese in real-life, so instead of memorizing flashcards you’d just never “memorize” anything and would just look up every word you find all the time until you eventually remember some. That’s fine too.

1 Like

I though memrise could help me with grammar…
Thats why I started with n5 and though if build my way up I could get better in making Japanese sentences.

Some people swear you can learn Japanese grammar just fine by being exposed to lots and lots of example sentences. For something like that, you should check out courses like: http://www.memrise.com/course/1091685/sgjl-05-core-2k6k-vocabulary-optimized-pt-1/

Personally, I’m skeptical about that, and I think that can only get you so far. I think it’ll be difficult to pick up the nuances of certain grammatical points that way, and you’re taking the big risk of learning incorrect usage of grammar points. There’s no guarantee the assumptions and mental model you build from the example sentences are actually 100% accurate.

So, I’m in the group of people that think grammatical reference texts are still extremely important for language learning, and Memrise is not a substitute for them. A popular free online grammar reference for Japanese is Tae Kim’s Guide to Japanese:

If you’re willing to spend a little bit of money, I highly recommend “A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar”. This one goes into the nuances of each grammatical point in much more depth than any other grammar textbook/reference I’ve seen, and the explanations are very clear. They give lots of example sentences for each grammar point, both of how the grammar point should be used, as well as examples of common mistakes learners make, showing how the grammar point should not be used.

1 Like

the N5-N4 courses diminished somehow the little Japanese I knew before using Memrise. Those course made me (almost) give up Japanese as such…

That’s what I mean I have 200% motivation to learn japanese, but it decreases because I don’t know where to start.
Tim Guide to Japanese was already on my grammar list, but the layout is a little bit boring.
Next to that I’m learning kanji and vocabulary on WaniKani.com.

Japanese grammar is extremely easy. Each grammatical word (ex. と, に) has only 1-2 unique meanings, for example に is always simply “location, whether in time or place”.

がっこう に いく “school’s location goes” = goes to school.

げつようび に “monday’s location” = on monday.

せんせい に きき-まし-た “teacher’s location ask-(politeness intensifier)-already happened” = I asked something in the same location as where the teacher was, or the same point in time as when the teacher was there = I asked the teacher himself.

Just like that, all longer words and verbforms are actually compounds, for example さむくなかった “it wasn’t cold”; is just a condensed compound of something like さむ (cold), こと (event), ない (is without, doesn’t exist), あった (existed, was; from the verb ある) = the event of “cold not existing” existed = it wasn’t cold.

Likewise when you have ex. たべている “eating”, it’s really たべ (meal, having a meal) て (being: refers to verbs only) いる (“lives”, exists) = “having a meal is being lived (through)” = “is eating”. な is “being” for nouns, ex. きれい な “being a beauty” = beautiful.

の is one of the few that have two meanings, or that’s more easily described as having two meanings; anciently it meant “thing, object”, same as もの means today. So when we say しろい の “a white one”, we’re really saying “a white thing”. Likewise この “this thing”, こ meaning “this”. Then when we say せんせい の いぬ “teacher’s dog”, we’re really saying “teacher’s thing (is a) dog”. Because the verb “is, am, are” and the words “a, an, the, that which” etc. don’t actually exist in Japanese.

にて together condense into で most of the time. がっこう で、せんせい に ききました “school’s location being, teacher’s location asked” = while at school i asked my teacher.

の is pronounced and written as ん when it’s easier to do so, so we get stuff like the こん in こんにちは “this day is…; good day!” (meant to be: この にち は).

Japanese has no real word for “because” (our English word is the condensed form of the phrase “by the cause”), the ones they might use being から, literally “from” (it used to be an ancient noun or something, I forgot) and より “out of” (the ancient verb よる, also meaning something I forgot) just being used non-literally to mean like “from that point of view, from that time onwards” etc etc. Likewise, な is a broken-off piece of the ancient verb なる “being” (the modern なる means “becomes”), and て is another broken-off piece of some verb I forget. It all stems from somewhere.

So then この な “this thing being” is condensed into こんな and gets translated into “this kind of, this type of”.

We also get things like せんせい ので or (word) んで “teacher('s) thing location being” = “that time or location having to do with teacher (still) exists” = because of teacher, because teacher’s there".

So all you need is a good textbook and to read it through and then grammar will snap into place without memorization.

1 Like

So what you have explained right here, you think I could learn that from Tim guide of learning Japanese?

I don’t know, as I don’t use his guide. I read old grammar books from around 100 years ago from openlibrary and archive.org.

I’ll add that if people can provide a modest bit of proof of ownership of the “A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar” that I’ll send the link to the Memrise course with those example sentences from the book in Tae Kim index order.

Here’s a road map I posted recently that offers definite steps in improving in Japanese. The various course covers in order writing (kana and kanji), grammar (Tae Kim), vocabulary (Core 2k/6k) and immersion (Drama translation).

Here’s another grammar compilation site:


Memrise is only part of the puzzle. You still need to use other resources and listen, listen and then listen some more. Stick with it and you’ll get there eventually. Good luck.

In theory (and even in practice for a lot of people) the idea is that you learn these words/phrases/whatever in context first to help solidify your understanding as you gain exposure to whatever element of the language you’re learning. The beauty of it is that exposure can be almost anything: television, podcasts, newspapers, book, etc. Auditory and text based resources improve different aspects of your ability to process language and the example sentences you learned previously can aid the mind in learning subconscious grammatical constructs. It’s like when you learned your primary language how you learned to say things and then later learned how grammar affects those things. You learned simple sentences and the simple grammatical patterns that accompanied them. Obviously the method has its limits. Advanced grammar constructs probably won’t come as easily without consulting a grammar guide; However, you can get quite far on just memrise, youtubers, a few news sites or podcasts, and damn sheer determination.

It’s a lot of work but keep on the train to success! 頑張ってね !

Logan :slight_smile:

It worked well for me.
I’ve only skimmed through some grammar guides, never done any practices like in school.
Vocbulary and Kanji-knowledge are the main things you need for reading and understanding, which were my main goals. I never cared about actually speaking it, but if you do, you should add active practice to your learning schedule.
I started learning Japanese 3 years ago and I’m reading fluently for quite some time now.
You just need time and the power of will, because it’s a freaking long journey.
(I should mention that I’ve switched from Memrise to another SRS for several reasons, but whatever program you use is up to you)


Cynic, I like your course on JLPT N2 Readings, but there are a few times when the meanings don’t show after you get the word right, which can be annoying if you are trying to learn meanings as well as pronunciation. I see that you have left Memrise. Is there a way that you can make me a contributor to that course so that I can try to make it better?

Hi, sorry for the delay.
I added you as a contributor. I’m not sure though what you want to do, since the database has no missing entries. Every item has Kanji, Kana and meaning and the course just tests Kanji to Kana.
Maybe things changed after I’ve stopped using Memrise.
Anyway, have fun.


Well, the database may have those entries but somehow only some of the meanings appear after a successful answer of the reading. I often but not always know what they mean, so it is helpful to see the proper meaning to have basically a double test that is not scored, so I want to try to see whether I can fix them to show all the time after successful answers.

I hope you’re enjoying your new learning method.

I will also try to set up a course forum page in the new method for other people to post suggestions.