Basic Japanese Grammar Cheat Sheet
Learning Japanese can be a bit overwhelming at times, but it ultimately boils down to a few simple rules.
Remembering and internalising those rules will give you the biggest boost on your path to fluency, because you only need to learn them once and you can then apply them every single time you speak, read, write or listen to Japanese.
It can be hard to bring yourself to study the same things over and over again, so I’ve made a handy little cheat sheet to make it easy.
Well, really, I’ve made two – one with romaji and one with hiragana. Here’s a zoomed-out look at the hiragana version:
The best part? I’m giving these cheat sheets away for free.
Just click below to get your copy of these printable PDFs, which are available in both A4 and A3 sizes.Click here to download the cheat sheet
Want more details before you download?
Read on for a quick breakdown of what’s included on the cheat sheet.
Sentence Structure Diagram
This first diagram is, simply, an expanded version of my sentence structure diagram explained in detail in this article, with a few tweaks and additions. It gives an overview of how different ‘things’ involved in an action are properly combined with a particle to be included in a sentence.
This basic structure applies to almost all Japanese sentences, and can be expanded further for building more complex sentences.
The only major exception is sentences where the main verb at the end is “desu”/「です」, although the structure for these is essentially the same. I’ll write more about that soon. (Basic gist: the verb is “desu”/「です」, most element/particle combinations can’t be used since they don’t make sense, and the last word before “desu”/「です」 doesn’t need a particle.)
Confusing Particle Pairs
This section highlights four particle pairs that can be a bit confusing:
- は vs が / wa vs ga (read a much more detailed comparison of these here)
- で vs に / de vs ni (you can read about these two here)
- に vs へ / ni vs he
- Time expressions that require the particle に/ni vs those that don’t
This next section is a simple overview of the different types of adverbs that can be used in sentences, as shown in the main diagram. A few examples of each adverb type are provided as a reminder.
Check out this article for a more comprehensive look at using adverbs in Japanese.
Finally, the cheat sheet includes five example sentences as diagrams, with each of the particles from the main diagram represented at least once.
As I said, there’s a romaji version and a hiragana version, and each comes as a printable PDF in A4 and A3 sizes. And it’s free 🙂
Download it, print it, stick it on your wall or keep a copy in your bag for easy reference wherever you go.
I hope it helps you on your journey to Japanese fluency.