基本動詞ハンドブック / Basic Verb Handbook

    screenshot of a page from the basic verb handbook

    Have you ever noticed that some of the most "basic" verbs in Japanese can have tons of definitions if you look them up in the dictionary? Despite being often considered among the most basic, some of the most common verbs in Japanese can also be the most complex! Luckily, there's a website here to help. The 基本動詞ハンドブック, or "Basic Verb Handbook" from the National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics is a great website written entirely in Japanese with Japanese learners in mind to help convey some of the concept behind some of these common and deceptively-tricky Japanese verbs. The main page offers a full list of the verbs covered, which includes words like 合う, "to join," いる "to be (for animate beings)," and 聞く "to hear." Clicking on any word will take you to a detailed page with definitions, pictures, animations, example sentences, pitch accent, and more. It's a tremendously detailed website, and helps to convey some of the way of thinking or usage of a word, which adds a ton of nuance beyond the simple dictionary definition.

    Since the site is entirely in Japanese, you'll need to be roughly intermediate level to get the most out of it, though everything is designed well enough that I think most learners would be able to parse most of it. The site was recently expanded to cover even more verbs, though it's not quite clear what makes the cut or not. Of course, it's far from every verb on here, but what's offered should help add a ton of depth to your understanding of "basic" Japanese verbs.

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