The Handbook of Japanese Verbs
A Kodansha Dictionary
by Taeko Kamiya
This is a fantastic book that I highly recommend for everyone learning the Japanese language. It is a dictionary so it is a great reference book. However, it explain things clearly so that understanding verbs and how they conjugate can be easily understood. Not only that, each section has exercises so that you can apply what you have learnt. Oh, and it’s a good source of verbs and sentences that you can input into your flash card program.
The preface states:-
Japanese verbs are often said to be difficult and complicated and hard to learn. That is not true. In fact, they are simple and less complicated to learn than those of many other languages. Unlike some European languages, you do not have to memorize different forms to indicated the number or person or gender of the subject of the sentence.
The introduction shows the different tenses of verbs and the different politeness levels of speech. It also explains the different types of verbs. It’s short, sweet, to the point and very easy to understand.
Part One: Conjugation
This section shows you how to conjugate verbs with easy to read tables and explanations. It has lots and lots of examples of individual words conjugating, also in easy to read tables.
As you can see, it can’t get much clearer. After this specific example, it promts you to try it on your own with the following words:
1. saku 咲く bloom
2. iku 行く go
3. aruku 歩く walk
4. hataraku 働く work
5. tsuku 着く arrive
As you can see, it’s great to learn new words as well as apply your new knowledge to see if it’s all sticking.
Part Two: Usage of Verb Forms
This section is the meat of the book. It shows how the different verb forms are used in connection with sentence structures. This part is fantastic, going through over 150 pages of sample sentences. Each sentence is written in Romaji, Kanji and English.
An example, (p.49) shows:
Vconj + mashou ましょう – “I will,” “Let’s ~”
Vconj mashou expresses the first person’s volition, invitation or suggestion.
1. Watashi ga tetsudaimashou.
I will help you.
2. Kono de-ta wa watashi-tachi ga shirabemashou.
We will check this data.
There are, of course, more examples than just these two, I just couldn’t be bothered writing them all out!
In both parts, there are practise exercises to help drive the content into your head and apply them. At the end there are answers to the exercises so you aren’t left hanging like I’ve found some books do!
There is an appendix of all the sentence patterns to see quickly what each means. There is also a list of basic Japanese verbs – great for adding into your flash card program like I said before.
On the inside covers of the book is a conjugation chart so you can quickly find out how to conjugate a verb you may come across. Fantastic!
My Final Thoughts
The book is designed so that you’ll understand even if you have never been exposed to Japanese verbs before. However, you wont learn Japanese from this book alone, and I do think that this book will greatly compliment your other learning resources.
This really is the ultimate guide to learning about Japanese Verbs. Remember, it’s called a “dictionary” – but you get so much more than that. You get the practise questions which I think are really valuable. It’s clear, concise, and is the perfect supplement to your Japanese verb learning experience.
It is only a dictionary, so I think you would probably get very bored reading it straight through to the end. Not that this is so much of a negative, only that you will need other sources to compliment your Japanese language learning.
I recommend that, when learning a new sentence structure or when conjugating verbs, take out this book for clear and simple explanation in what is happening. Verb conjugation was never simpler! Get The Handbook of Japanese Verbs today!