Human Japanese and Human Japanese Intermediate Content

Wondering which app is right for you? Take a look at our quick breakdowns for the “nutshell” description, or jump to our chapter lists for the unabridged details.

Human Japanese in a nutshell
Assumes no prior experience with Japanese. Welcome aboard! Human Japanese covers:
  • Pronunciation
  • Greetings and other “set phrases”
  • How to read and write hiragana and katakana, gradually moving toward representing all Japanese examples in them
  • The particles ka, wa, ga, ni, no, wo, and de, thoughtfully explained and illuminated with more than 1000 example sentences, all with recordings
  • The positive and negative, present and past forms of -masu verbs and desu, plus the -te form
  • The three kinds of adjectives: na, no, and conjugating
  • How to make adverbs from adjectives
  • The number system
  • How to use counters (e.g., ikko, ni-ko, san-ko, etc.), which are used with numbers to count things
  • The “want to do” verb form (e.g., tabetai, ikitai, etc.)
  • The progressive forms (e.g., -te imasu, -te imasen, etc.)
  • And much more! (See full chapter list for details.)
Human Japanese Intermediate in a nutshell
Assumes you have completed the first app or have equivalent knowledge. Human Japanese Intermediate covers:
  • Informal verbs
  • Kanji, using an integrated approach that introduces five characters per lesson with animations, examples, tips, discussion, and quizzes, then gradually begins using introduced kanji in example sentences throughout the rest of the text
  • Informal speech (where and when to do it, common abbreviations, etc.)
  • Introduces or looks more deeply at particles e, na, yo, to
  • Transitive vs. intransitive verbs (e.g., tomeru vs. tomaru)
  • Dives deeply into wa vs. ga
  • Explainer no (e.g., Sou na no da / Sou nan da, Iku no da / Iku n da)
  • Verb nominalization with koto and no (e.g., Mariko-san ga raamen wo tabeta koto wo shiranakatta)
  • Relative clauses (e.g., Shinbun wo yonde iru ojiisan ga isu ni suwatte iru)
  • Describing with iu (e.g., Dou iu hito desu ka?)
  • Doing things for others (e.g., Hanako-chan ni hon wo yonde ageta)
  • Male vs. Female speech differences
  • And much more! (See full chapter list for details.)
Human Japanese full chapter list
Assumes no prior experience with Japanese. Welcome aboard! Full chapter list:

Introduces Japanese pronunciation, comparing and contrasting to various aspects of English pronunciation.

The Writing System

Gives a brief overview of the evolution of writing in Japan, and introduces the three main character sets in use today: hiragana, katakana, and kanji.

Hiragana, Part 1

Dives into the first half of the hiragana syllabary, demonstrating proper stroke order via animations of each character. Includes tips on writing and remembering characters, as well as lots of inline quizzes.

Cultural Notes: Geography

Gives a brief overview of the geography of Japan, introducing the four main islands.

Hiragana, Part 2

Finishes the hiragana syllabary, with more animations, writing tips, and quizzes.


A vocabulary chapter on basic greetings. Describes how to avoid sounding like a foreigner, why a valid answer to "How are you?" is "Yes," and how to understand the multiple ways of saying "thank you." Includes the first ten katakana characters and the introductory dialogue between John and Mariko.

The Verb To Be

Introduces the single most important verb in Japanese, the verb to be, in several forms. Demystifies the initially scary fact that Japanese sentences do not require subjects.

At Home

A vocab chapter that focuses on items found in and around the home. Introduces the next ten katakana.


Introduces the Japanese counting system, from one to 100,000,000. Includes a quiz in which the computer pronounces random numbers and asks you to enter them on a number pad.

Times and Seasons

A vocabulary chapter that looks at time-related words such as the days of the week, the months of the year, and so on. Includes a dialogue and the next ten katakana.

Cultural Notes: Ofuro

Details how bathing works in Japan, both in private homes, and in public places like hot springs.

More Set Phrases

Contains another batch of set phrases, which are greeting-like things that people say at certain set times, like when leaving for work or coming home for the day. Also contains the next set of katakana.

Questions and Ka

Introduces the particle ka, which turns a statement into its question equivalent. Also decodes that Japanese classic, "Aa, sou desu ka?"

A Stroll Through Town

Builds vocabulary for things around town, like shops, train stations, and so on. Completes the katakana syllabary by introducing the last eight characters.

Subjects and Wa

Introduces the important particle wa, used to name the topic of a Japanese sentence, which often corresponds to the subject in an English sentence. Describes how this works in lucid language, emphasizing the difference between the Japanese topic and the English subject. Illustrates with copious example sentences.

Cultural Notes: Trains

Describes the train system in Japan, including the ever-popular Bullet Train.


Introduces dozens of culinary vocabulary words, allaying any fears the reader might have about Japanese food.


Teaches how to use sets of words like "this," "that," "that (over there)," and "which one?", which always come in convenient four-packs.

At School

Visits a typical high school to build education-related vocabulary. Includes the oft-requested translation for, "I really dislike math," as well as two dialogues.

The Possessive and No

Introduces the particle no, used to indicate a possessive relationship between two things.


Explains how verbs work in Japanese, including how to use them in sentences and how to conjugate them to their various forms.

Cultural Notes: The Countryside

Offers a glimpse of small town life in the Japanese countryside.

Directions and Ni

Shows how to indicate direction with the particle ni.

Objects and Wo

Opens up new grammatical vistas by introducing the particle wo, which marks the direct object in a sentence.

Existence and Ni

Introduces a second use for the particle ni, which is to indicate the location of existence for some verbs.

Friends and Family

Teaches the vocabulary needed to talk about everyone and their brother.

Recreation and Leisure

A vocabulary lesson packed with words related to sports, recreation, and leisure.

Post-positional Phrases

Puts the particle no to use in a new way by showing how to construct sentences that use what are called prepositional phrases in English, such as "on top of the refrigerator," or "inside the car."

Verbs, The Return

Part vocabulary builder and part grammar lesson, this chapter introduces more verbs, then shows how to create sentences that join multiple verbs in a single statement.

Interrogatives and Ga

Tracks down the who, what, when, where, and why, which require the use of a new particle, ga.

Cultural Notes: Prices

Looks into the myth that Japan is an expensive country, relating a recent experience the author had staying in an apartment near Tokyo.

Counting Objects

Teaches how to use numbers in sentences, which requires devices called counters, which are akin to English words like a loaf of bread, a pound of flour, and a bottle of wine.


Examines how to create compound sentences with the negative conjunction.


Introduces adjectives in Japanese, along with the surprising fact that, like verbs, they conjugate to indicate tense.

More Adjectives

A vocab building lesson that adds dozens more adjectives to the student's repertoire. Includes a dialogue.

Body and Health

Explains how to describe physical appearance, as well as various health conditions. Includes two dialogues.

The Progressive Tenses

Introduces the formula for creating progressive tenses, which allow sentences like "She is eating," or "He was studying."


Gives the vocabulary for all manner of clothing, both Japanese and Western, and discusses the verbs to make use of it. Caps off the lesson with a dialogue between John and Mariko.


Introduces the particle de, which is used to mark the means by which an action occurs, or the place where an activity happens.

At Work

A vocab lesson concentrating on things and activities found in an office environment. Includes a lengthy dialogue demonstrating the new vocabulary.


Introduces a new verb form that is used to create sentences expressing volition, such as, "I want to go to Tokyo." Compares and contrasts this form to adjectives, which are similar in structure. Includes a dialogue.

Cultural Notes: Kanji

Gives an introductory overview to the most feared and revered part of the Japanese writing system. Explains how each Kanji character has multiple readings, and illustrates how they are used in sentences.


Describes how to construct adverbs from adjectives already known, and introduces a few more important ones. Shows how adverbs fit into Japanese sentences, and explains why you really, honestly, seriously want to know about them. Includes a dialogue.


Describes the vocabulary for talking about weather situations ranging from clear skies to hail to earthquakes.

Your Future With Japanese

Bids the student farewell with a summary of what the text has introduced and advice on next steps.

Human Japanese Intermediate full chapter list
Assumes you have completed the first app or have equivalent knowledge. Full chapter list:

What's new, what's improved, and how everything works.

Informals, Part 1: Ichidan

Dives into informal verbs, which are crucial to all the higher-level Japanese we will learn in Intermediate. Relax...Japanese verbs are easy.

Arriving in Japan

A culture and vocab lesson based on things you might see at the airport.


Describes our strategy for learning kanji together and introduces the first batch of characters. After this point, every chapter will introduce several more characters, with copious examples, reading and writing practice, and more.

Informals, Part 2: Godan

Tackles the next category of informal verbs.


Checks in with culture and vocab centered on Japanese hotels and ryokan (traditional inns).

Directions and E

Introduces the particle e, which is similar to ni, but which enables a unique construction.

Informals, Part 3: Irregulars

Lines up and knocks down the four main irregular verbs in Japanese: To go, to come, to do, and to be. After this point, you'll be able to rock all of the verbs you currently know in their informal forms!

Speaking Informally

Breaks down how to use these newly acquired, less polite, verbs in many kinds of sentences, including common speech abbreviations like dropping the final verb (and some important notes about how this can sound feminine).

Giving Reasons with Kara

Shows how to use the reason-marking kara, with careful consideration of common mistakes that foreign speakers make.

Morning Routine

Starts the day off right with some vocab you'll find useful around home.

Talking to Yourself with Na

Introduces the musing particle na, which is frequently used in informal Japanese.

-Te Form, Revisited

Pauses to regroup and consider the -te form more deeply, introducing several new abilities.


Walks through a train station with photos, vocab, and more. Breaks down the grammar behind common announcements so that you'll be able to listen like a local.

Wanting things with Hoshii

Shows how to use the word hoshii to talk about wanting both things...and actions.

Asking and Giving Permission

Shows how a simple pattern can be used to ask and give permission to do things.

Visiting a Coffee Shop

Tags along with John and Mariko as they take a break at a kissaten, or Japanese coffee shop, introducing fun new vocab and casual speech patterns.

Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

Takes a careful look at this important distinction. Shows how, although we don't think about it frequently, it is actually quite important in English as well.

Life Experiences

Introduces an easy new pattern to talk about the things you have done in life.

Convenience Stores

Introduces the reader to the food and drinks available at your local konbini, and shows how to talk to the cashier.

Current Status

Introduces a new pattern for talking about one's present status. This pattern is similar to the English "perfect" forms ("I have eaten"), and it happens to look exactly like a pattern we already know.

Embedded Questions

Takes your Japanese to the next level by showing how to construct sentences that contain implied questions, such as, "I don't know why he ate your ice cream," and other dairy product thievery-related classics.


Serves up a mouth-watering tour of pictures and vocab of some of Japan's most common foods, then introduces lots of fun patterns to help you devour it all in style.

Relative Clauses

Promotes your Japanese to the next dimension by challenging the first rule you ever learned about the language: that the verb always goes last. Not anymore, dear readers. Not anymore.

Yo, Revisited

Takes a breather from the heavy lifting to reconsider the oft-misunderstood particle yo.

Quoting with To

Introduces the quotation marker to and shows how to create both direct and indirect quotations.

Planning with Tsumori and Yotei

Shows how to declare your intentions with a couple easy new words.


Sits down with John and Mariko as they grab a bite to eat at a restaurant.

Treating Actions Like Things

Expands your power of expression powerfully by breaking down a trick called verb nominalization. Don't let the name scare you. It's easy to understand and will open new linguistic vistas for you.

Wa and Ga, Revisited

Stands back and takes a deeper look at the age-old question: Just what do wa and ga really do, anyway?

Needing with Iru

Shows how to talk about your wants and needs with two easy new words.

Explaining with No

Demystifies the no desu and n desu that you see popping up everywhere in real-world Japanese, and shows how to do it in a gender-correct manner.

Describing with Iu

Chats about the many uses of the ubiquitous word "to say."


Heads down to a song-shop with the gang for a little vocal fun, with photos and dialogs.

Comparisons and Preferences

Introduces the pattern to make comparisons ("A is more such-and-such than B"), which also happens to be the pattern for talking about personal preferences.

Putting Events on a Timeline

Introduces several new words that help you to talk about when things occur.


Picks up a few new vocab words at the local market, with pictures and culture.

Giving and Receiving

Introduces the words for giving and receiving things, which, intriguingly, can happen in different directions and with differing levels of politeness.

Something, Anything!

Brings coherence to words like "something," "anything," and "nothing," which work quite differently from in English, but which aren't too tough when properly explained.

Doing Things For People

Builds on the giving and receiving words from two chapters back by showing how you can use them to give and receive actions as well.

Male and Female Speech Differences

Recaps the Japanese we've learned from the perspective of male and female speech. Shows how to avoid sounding like you learned Japanese from your girlfriend (if you're a guy), and illuminates the use of that feminine lilt otherwise.

Visiting a Temple

Spends one last day with John and Mariko as they visit Narita-san, a real-life temple near Tokyo.

Your Future With Japanese

Bids the reader a fond farewell, with recommendations on next steps.