Advice to beginners
Learn the dictionary form first!
No matter if you want to start with the polite form or the casual form, you must understand the verb groups first (= study the dictionary form). If you learn only the MASU form (polite form), this is what is going to happen:
- ① You will have trouble finding the verbs in the dictionary. Just try with 食たべます (tabemasu). You won't find such entry, because the dictionary form is 食たべる (taberu, to eat).
- ② You will not be used to conjugating verbs, and it will be harder to learn the other forms.
- ③ It is difficult to find out the dictionary form of a verb at the MASU form (whereas it is easy to find out the MASU form of a verb at the dictionary form). For example, おきます (okimasu) could be the MASU form of both 置おく (oku, to put, group 1) and 起おきる (okiru, to wake up, group 2). Confusing, isn't it?
It only takes 10 minutes to learn the verb groups, so make sure to check it out!
Almost nothing is written in alphabet (rōmaji) in Japan (except maybe a few company or restaurant names), so start learning hiragana as soon as possible! Once you know them, you will:
- - be able to read manga in original version, since most of them have furigana (small hiragana that gives the reading of kanji).
- - have a better understanding of the conjugations. For example, why the verb hanaSU (to talk) becomes hanaSHImasu, or why the verb maTSU (to wait) becomes maCHImasu!
Some people just skip over katakana after memorizing hiragana, but that's a terrible mistake!
- - A lot of words (around 10%!) are written in katakana!
- - It's sad not to be able to write your own name!
- - Katakana can help you memorize kanji. For example, the kanji 名 (used in 名な前まえ, namae, name), can be broken down into the katakana タ (ta) + ロ (ro). This can help you remember the kanji, because Tarō is a traditional Japanese name!