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I still feel really novice in my Japanese, especially in regards to grammar and sentence structure, but I want to start piecing together the vocabulary I've learned into full sentences in the hope that I can at least marginally communicate next time I visit Japan. My main issue is that I have no real way of knowing if the sentences I create are correct or not. I tried running them through Google Translate, but it feels like Google Translate just takes a best guess about what you are trying to say, so even if the sentence I came up with is completely incorrect, it may still "translate" correctly.

I've been using ChatGPT, and it feels like it's doing a good job, but I have no idea if it's actually accurate. Is there a better resource out there that will work well for this type of self-learning?

To give a recent example of a communication with ChatGPT. One thing I noted is it said it removed a redundant が, but it actually added a second が, so I know it's explanation isn't 100% truthful in regards to what it did, but the rest sounds like it makes sense:

Is 日本語が少しわかりでも学びです。grammatically correct? If it is not, what corrections need to be made to make it grammatically correct?

The phrase "日本語が少しわかりでも学びです" is not grammatically correct. It seems like you're trying to express "I understand a little Japanese and am learning," but it needs some adjustments. Here's a corrected version:

"日本語が少しわかりますが、まだ学んでいます。"

This translates to "I understand a little Japanese, but I'm still learning." This version is grammatically correct and conveys the intended meaning.

Please explain all of the differences you made between my sentence and the grammatically correct sentence, and why they were needed

Certainly, let's break down the differences between your original sentence and the corrected one:

Original sentence: "日本語が少しわかりでも学びです。" Corrected sentence: "日本語が少しわかりますが、まだ学んでいます。"

"わかりでも" vs. "わかりますが":

In your original sentence, "わかりでも" doesn't convey the intended meaning. "でも" means "but" or "however," which doesn't fit here. Instead, "わかりますが" (understand but) correctly introduces a contrast between understanding a little Japanese and the ongoing process of learning.

"学び" vs. "学んでいます":

"学び" (manabi) is the dictionary form of the verb "to learn." However, to convey the ongoing action of learning, you need to use the present progressive form. Therefore, "学んでいます" (manande imasu) or its colloquial form "学んでいます" (manande iru) is more appropriate.

Redundant "が":

Your original sentence had an unnecessary "が" before "でも." This was removed in the corrected sentence to maintain grammatical accuracy.

Omission of "です":

While your original sentence ends with "学びです," it's more common and natural in Japanese to use the verb ending "ます" or "います" when expressing ongoing actions. Therefore, "です" is omitted in the corrected sentence.

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  • It seems like ChatGPT can produce correct sentences but cannot explain the grammar well.. Have you tried HiNative?
    – chocolate Mod
    Mar 13 at 0:47

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ChatGPT's "native language" is undeniably English. And there is also a huge gap between "suggesting a correct sentence" and "explaining grammar logically". As a result, while ChatGPT can do a decent job of just proofreading English text, it falls short when it comes to explaining English grammar or suggesting correct Japanese sentences. In particular, it's still really bad at explaining Japanese grammar logically. You seem to have overlooked this, but 学び is not the dictionary form of a verb, and this is a rather elementary mistake. It's analogous to being unable to tell the grammatical difference between lesson and learn in English!

Unfortunately, there are not many options.

  • For now, stop expecting AI to explain Japanese grammar correctly. Read your textbook. If you just want to get your Japanese sentences corrected, ChatGPT has some ability to do that, and it may be enough for a beginner.
  • Claude 3 Opus seems to have the ability to generate slightly smoother Japanese sentences (especially slang), but it still has difficulty explaining grammar.
  • Don't expect them to explain kanji readings yet.
  • If you are not using it, consider using a paid plan such as GPT-4.
  • The AI's capabilities are improving rapidly, so time may solve the problem :)

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