I recently got a copy of “Learn Japanese From Some Guy” by Jeremy Rasmussen. Let me start by saying that this is the best title I have ever seen for a Japanese grammar book.
Before I give you my comments, let me give you a little background so that have some idea whether or not my comments have any value at all. If you have been reading this, you know that I am learning Japanese using the Hacking Japanese Supercourse and that I am nearing the end of Phase 2 – Learn the Kanji. Now, being me, I haven’t only been learning the Kanji but have been doing some listening (Japanesepod101.com) and some studying of grammar (Human Japanese).
I started this book at the beginning and have read several chapters. None of the grammar points have been new to me, so I am not approaching them from the standpoint of a true beginner. Having said that, I do think that, by and large, the grammar points are very well and clearly explained.
This is a seriously good book. Let’s take a look at a chapter to see why. Chapter 5 is about the Ko-So-A-Do groups of words. (If you don’t know what that is, don’t worry. You won’t need that for this review.)
First the author explains the basic grammar point, giving example sentences. Each sentence is written using a mixture of kana and kanji (with furigana – those little kana that tell you the pronunciation of the kanji), and in romaji and in English.
There are people who would find the presence of romaji (Japanese written using the alphabet instead of kana and kanji) to be a negative, and I respect that point of view. Romaji can be a crutch, and anyone who really wants to learn Japanese needs to get away from using it as quickly as possible. However, if you haven’t learned the kana, you need the romaji to help you along. If you haven’t learned kanji, that’s fine. This book will still work for you, with the added bonus that you’ll know some kanji by the time you’re done with it.
This book gives one of the best explanations of the Ko-So-A-Do words that I’ve seen. The explanation includes quite a few sample sentences, and the author winds up with a chapter summary. Many of the chapters include at least a handful of exercises for you to try out the grammar point that has just been explained.
I am reading the book on an iPad, and the formatting and design are first rate. Several key points in sentences are underlined in various colors which actually does a great job of making some of the points clearer, and the author hasn’t gone overboard with the colors.
I have seen several little grammar books that attempt to do what this book does, and this book is definitely better than most because of the clarity of the explanations, the number of example sentences and the presence of some practice exercises.