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Handbook Of Japanese Verbs [Paperback]

Taeko Kamiya
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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June 12 2001 Kodansha's Children's Classics

Handbook Of Japanese Verbs is a Kodansha International publication.

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About the Author

Taeko Kamiya is a Kodansha International author.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


In order to master a foreign language, it is crucial for students to acquire a solid knowledge of its verbs and their usage. Japanese is no exception.

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 indicate the number or person or gender of the subject of the sentence. The verb kaku, for instance, could mean I/we write, you (sing./ pl.) write, he/she/it writes or they write. Moreover, Japanese verbs are highly regular in the way they make their forms. Once you grasp certain rules for making such forms as the negative, conjunctive, conditional forms, etc., you will be able to apply these rules to almost any verbs.

The purpose of this book is to describe in detail not only how Japanese verbs conjugate, but how you should use the verb forms in connection with sentence structures.

The book is divided into two parts. Part I deals with the conjugations of the three types of verbs--regular I, regular II and irregular verbs, as well as copulas (be-verbs) and auxiliaries. A conjugation practice follows the description of a verb or a group of verbs. Part II deals with the usage of various verb forms. Each usage is illustrated with example sentences, and exercises are provided every few lessons to allow you to test your understanding.

I do hope that this book will prove to be helpful--you will discover how simple and easy conjugating and using Japanese verbs can be.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Subarashi! Feb. 28 2002
This very friendly little book is a fantastic tutorial in the proper use of Japanese verb forms in nearly all their conjugations and uses. Sample sentences are throughout, most of them quite useful and suitable for memorization verbatim, and workbook style drills accompany every section of every chapter.
This is, however, more of a workbook than a reference; for the latter, look no further than Naoko Chino's "Japanese Verbs at a Glance". For a workbook, however, this has (in my experience) no peer.
"Language learning is overlearning", and with that in mind, Kamiya offers lots of practice and sample bunkei which, when worked through, will offer a truly impressive insight into the mechanics of Japanese verb USAGE (not just academic conjugation).
My last class (I'm a second year student at the Geos School in NYC) taught me the '-nagara' verb ending. By using Kamiya's book at home these past few days I feel confident in my usage of what amounted to no more than a footnote in "Japanese For Busy People II" textbook. Excellent. Now I can tell my girlfriend not to talk with her mouth full!
A fun, fine, and ultimately indespensible book for any (that means all) verb-challenged intermediate students. Kamiya is one of the best teachers I've studied - try to get a copy of her "Japanese Particle Workbook" - another five star title on a stubbornly difficult subject.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Verbs and nothing else, but... June 27 2001
This is a wonderful little book. You need to be at a point in your Japanese studies where working with verbs is a problem before you even bother. And you need to know the hiragana to make best use of the handbook. (Everything is written in romaji in addition to kanji though.)
Now if you know a fair amount of Japanese and if you know your kana, you might think you aren't going to need a book that deals only with verbs. Unlike a (proper) English sentence, a Japanese sentence can comprise nothing but verbs (although some of them might be acting like nouns). If you know why you say kawanai, but kaimasu, then you don't need this book. If you know the difference between sumitai and sumitagaru, then you don't need this book.
But if verbs are giving you a problem or if you are moving from a purely auditory learning system to the written language, then you will want this book. I found the "pattern" treatment of Type I or u-dropping verbs particularly helpful. (I learned it in about half an hour.) Also, since I am working with written Japanese more than spoken Japanese, I am finding the comprehensive list of patterns (over 150) extremely useful. But if I were concentrating on the spoken language I would still need to know which form goes with which auxiliary. And it's all here, presented systematically for easy digestion.
My only complaint is that the practices give too much help with the auxiliaries. It really needs two levels of practice -- one that reinforces verb endings and one that reinforces verb ending + auxiliaries.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Systematic and clear March 19 2002
By C. Lim
I like the book for three things. Firstly, it is really systematic. Each section begins with the sentence pattern, followed with several examples, and then the exercise section. Secondly, this book comes with Kanji and Romaji. As Kanji is the so-called life-application form of Japanese (i.e. used in Japanese comic books, newspapers, novels etc), the use of Kanji in the book helps me to recognise written Kanji in my favourite Japanese magazines (for eg.). The use of Romaji helps me to know the pronunciation of each word, so it saves me the trouble of having to check the dictionary. Romaji also helps with my listening. Lastly, its syllabus closely resemble my Japanese class materials, and hence it was a great refresher for someone who has learned Japanese for three years (i.e. but that was four years ago).
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5.0 out of 5 stars A grammar text Nov. 25 2002
This is not a "user friendly" book for the casual learner of Japanese. This is nothing more or less than a small, pocket-book sized grammar text for using Japanese verbs. "Te" forms, "tara" forms, "hoshii" forms are all covered, along with pretty much every other possible conjugation. This is no dictionary, however, so do not expect to learn any new words. Just expect to make better use of the verbs you already know.
The sections are broken down well, and there are very small practice sections at the end of each chapter. For what it is, it is an excellent resource. I would recommend this book to serious, college level learners of Japanese.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Put some variety in your sentence structure March 25 2002
By A Customer
As a beginner in Japanese, it feels like everything I can write would sound to a native speaker like, "See Spot. See Spot run." This book will help you to apply the vocabulary you have in new and more interesting ways: "Is that Spot I see? My, Spot can run!"
It is _not_ a good way to improve vocabulary, though. The included list of verbs is somewhat limited. This book is really for helping you apply verbs in new and different ways, not so much about teaching you new verbs.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I love it! April 21 2014
By Dom
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is what I wanted so as to enable myself to "play" more freely with the Japanese verb system in my texts.

I recommend it to any student of Japanese.

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