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どんなときどう使う日本語表現文型500―日本語能力試験N1~N3の重要表現を網羅 (英語) ペーパーバック – 2010/6/1
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This book, “500”, covers intermediate and advanced Japanese grammar, at the level of the JLPT N3〜N1, in a very terse style, virtually only in Japanese.
To learn Japanese grammar or study for the JLPT, buy JLPT prep grammar books and/or English-language grammar references instead (see below); this book has some use as a supplement, but not a primary text.
The intended audience is also unclear - the sample sentences (at all levels) contain advanced vocabulary (JLPT N1), so students at the intermediate level who want to learn more basic grammar (N3) will need to consult a dictionary extensively.
It is suited for someone at the JLPT N1 level (or preparing for that exam) who wishes to fill in gaps in their knowledge - missing forms and nuances - and works well for this due to its organization and comprehensiveness. It is also a good reference once you already know the contents, and helps you express yourself with better nuance - here the brevity is a benefit.
However, especially for someone at (or preparing for) the N3 or N2 level (but also N1 level), I would recommend others books, notably JLPT preparation grammar books, which are generally better-written, providing more elaboration, and using appropriately graded vocabulary, so you can actually read the examples.
There are many options in JLPT prep; the UNICOM series and 日本語総まとめ (Nihongo so-matome) are both good.
You may also find an English grammar book a good alternative or supplement to this book, notably Makimo and Tsutsui’s fabulous 3-volume grammar reference, which is *far* more detailed, and in English - A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar,A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar, and A Dictionary of Advanced Japanese Grammar 日本語文法辞典 [上級編].
For all that, this is a very comprehensive and well-organized book, giving a thematically organized textbook of intermediate and advanced Japanese grammar - it shows grammatical forms with similar usage and meaning, allowing you to express yourself (rather than just memorizing scattered forms), and providing some exercises.
The main alternative (at the advanced level) is a grammar reference book, which is poorly suited for self study, due to lack of exercises and lack of thematic organization. However, grammar books are often much better explained, and thus provide a useful supplement.
The book is brutally terse, simply listing a grammatical form, giving 3〜5 (usually 4) examples of its use, and then including a very brief discussion of its use, usually one or two sentences, rarely providing sufficient elaboration. For this reason, it is more suited for a classroom setting, where the teacher elaborates and fills in the gaps that the text leaves.
There are none of the illustrations or tables that the beginner book (200) provides, making the book a relentless parade of grammar/example, grammar/example, with little connect or comparison of forms beyond chapters and cross-references. The lack of tables in individual entries also make it hard to scan - you need to work through the prose. There are icons to flag bookish and formal expression, but no other graphics. You will have to read very attentively and take breaks to avoid having your eyes glaze over.
There are also no translations of any contents beyond the chapter titles, which adds an extra hurdle, particularly for less advanced students (there is furigana, however). There’s not a great deal of vocabulary in the (terse) explanations, so after a few chapters it’s not too bad, but it’s intimidating at first.
If using this text, there are two supplementary texts to consider.
There is a workbook available, which gives some more exercises. It’s not essential, but inexpensive and worth a look: どんな時どう使う 日本語表現文型500―日本語能力試験1・2級対応 (アルクの日本語テキスト)
The same publisher also publishes an encyclopedia どんなときどう使う日本語表現文型辞典, which is primarily an alphabetized collection of the contents of the two books (200 + 500), with a few additional forms (about 60), English/Chinese/Korean translations, and slightly different wording. However, the encyclopedia’s entries (for the contents of “500”) are not significantly more detailed than this book’s - if you want to avoid using your dictionary while you read 500, and don’t mind looking up each alphabetized entry (they are not thematically organized), it may be worth getting, but I don’t think it’s worthwhile - get Makimo and Tsutsui (Intermediate and Advanced) instead.
So while this book has some value, I’d recommend you look elsewhere first.