If you want to get really good at Japanese, you need to practice reading and speaking in complete sentences. It makes logical sense when you think about it, because that’s how you’ll encounter the language in the real world.
But if you’re not sure where to find good sentences to learn and memorize, it can feel a little overwhelming. I’m going to show you how to find good Japanese example sentences on the internet, and how to do it for free.
First let’s take a super short look at the benefits of learning Japanese within the context of sentences. Then let’s check out the website that practically has an unlimited amount of Japanese sentences you can use.
And finally, I’ll go over a few strategies that you can implement yourself to get the most out of your study sessions.
Real Quick, Why Learn Japanese In Complete Sentences?
When you break it down, a language is really composed of two things: vocabulary (nouns, verbs, etc) and the grammar that organizes the vocabulary in a way that makes sense.
Most people learn vocab. and grammar rules separately, and then later on try to combine them in a way that works.
Forget that – Just learn them both at the same time!
When you focus on learning a language by reading and speaking lots of complete sentences, you not only learn the vocabulary that’s used, you also learn the grammar that appears as well!
Plus you learn when certain words naturally go together, like how かける is used to “wear” glasses, but 着る is used to “wear” a shirt.
And finally, you memorize a real life sentence that you can actually use yourself, right away.
I could go on about this for hours, but instead of that, let’s take a look at the amazing website that you can use.
What Is The Name Of The Website?
There’s an amazing site that’s called Tatoeba.org that will help you find all the Japanese sentences you want. On a side note, it is super cool that the name of the site comes from the Japanese word 例えば (tatoabe) which means “for example” in English.
This is exactly what we want from this site – examples!
Basically what the site is, is a collection of sentences from many different languages that have all been submitted by users.
It’s kind of similar to how Wikipedia works, in that the content is created by the many people who use it all the time.
But obviously not everybody who provides sentences to the website is perfect, so there is an approval process where other people who also understand the language will review what you’ve submitted and give it a passing grade or not.
This means that you don’t have to worry about learning incorrect sentences from the site when you go there to find some Japanese phrases to learn!
Once you’ve hopped over to the site, it’s time to start using it!
How To Use Tatoeba Get Japanese Sentences:
The first thing you’ll notice on the site is a big search bar. This is you portal to the magical land of complete sentences.
But wait! If you just start looking with the default settings, you’ll actually run into all sorts of languages!
So first you will want to do a three-step process:
- Change the “Search sentences in” part to English.
- Change the “translated into” part to Japanese.
- Type in a word that you want to learn in Japanese.
This will then give you the sentence results which you can start learning and committing to memory so that you’re Japanese comprehension gets a boost.
Here’s what the Manga example result starts off looking like:
FYI, the word “Mangas” with the plural “s” at the end is used when referring to various types of mangas or a collection of mangas.
It’s kind of like the word “fishes” in that, even though it sounds a little unusual, it is actually a real word with a very specific usage.
One of the things you may have noticed with the examples is that they are written in full on Japanese. If you’re not sure what the readings are of some of the kanji, then you can click on that little “i” button to the right and it will take you to the main page for that particular sentence.
Once you are there, you can then click on a little kana button above the sentence and it should provide you will furigana so that you can see how to pronounce the kanji being used.
As a final note, when you’re looking at the results of the search you made, you can use the toolbar on the right side of the page to alter the results for things such as:
- Sentences with fewest words first.
- Most recently created first
- Sentences with audio provided (my favorite!)
And much more if you want to get really detailed specific.
So now that you know how to find these great example sentences centered around a word, what’s a good way to go about learning them and memorizing them? Here’s what I think:
How I Recommend You Use These Sentences To Lean Japanese:
First of all, I recommend that you think about some of the words you use in your life each day. Here’s an example of what I mean, but for my own life:
- Video games
Then once you’ve gotten this list of words you want to be able to use in Japanese, hop on over to Tatoeba and plug them into the search bar (one at a time!).
This ought to give you some great example sentences. At this point you will want to study about 3-5 of these sentences until you understand the sentences at both a big picture understanding (the English translation basically) and also on a more detailed level (such as what each part of the grammar is doing).
This will be your “learning time” with the word you’ve chosen and other words that are going to appear alongside it naturally in conversations.
Once you’re confident that you have learned the sentences and you feel that you have a solid understanding of everything, you will want to copy them into something that you can review later on.
You see, the thing is that people tend to forget what they don’t use. So if you’re not using all of these words and phrases all the time, you memory of them will probably deteriorate.
But if you plop them into a Spaced Repetition System like Anki, or even just write them onto flash cards you’ve made for yourself, then you can review them later on so that you never forget them!
Here’s My Last Recommendation, Have a Grammar Book Handy!
Learning Japanese like this is totally different from the way you learn in school or from a typical textbook.
You are going to have to take the initiate in your learning journey and find words and phrases in Japanese that you will study and then memorize through practice.
However, I do highly recommend that you get yourself a good grammar book that you can reference anytime you run into a particle, verb conjugation, or other grammar-related thing that you don’t quite understand.
The way I see it, you should only study grammar when you have to. That is, when you encounter it naturally in sentences, you can then look it up and learn it at that time.
Learning one new grammar rule at a time like this prevents you from becoming overwhelmed and confused, since Japanese grammar can look very similar to itself, but actually be used differently all the time… I’m talking about you particles!
Have you used Tatoeba before? What are you thoughts on having it as a tool for learning Japanese?
Leave me a comment and let me know!