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Sentences Series 6: How to Know When You’ve Truly Learned a Sentence

12/24/2012 01:29:22

 

So you think you've learned a sentence. You can look at your SRS card and read it perfectly every time without hesitation. However, have you really learned it - completely? More importantly, do you understand it?

In many cases, probably not. Allow me to explain. There are some criteria that come to mind when stating a sentence has been fully learned. For starters, you should be able to:

The last two are the real test. If you have gotten this far, that's awesome. However, there's still one more thing:  

By understanding the idea, I mean that you understand each part of the sentence and how they affect each other. Having a solid understanding of the idea of each sentence becomes a much more powerful tool. It allows you to modify the sentence to fit your needs, thus forming new sentences - or new ideas. New ideas lead to more new ideas. Your brain's fuzzy logic will begin to pick up on this concept and apply it at some point. Sooner or later you might not even need to study sentences, once you can pick up on the idea of carrying on a conversation. However, that's jumping a bit ahead, so I'll table that topic for now.

To illustrate what I mean, let's consider the following example:

それは新聞だ。 That is a newspaper.

In this case, you are basically saying the object near the person you are speaking to is a newspaper. However, let's say that you are holding the newspaper, and want to tell the other person that it is a newspaper. You could modify the sentence by swapping a word:

これは新聞だ。 This is a newspaper.

While this is a rudimentary example, my point is illustrated clearly. Understanding the sentence gives far more power than just memorizing it as a whole. So when you study your sentences, make sure to understand it.