Knowing Words but still not understanding the meaning?

As the title says, what do you usually do when you don’t understand the meaning of a sentence(or lots of sentences),
even though you know the words?
Because I’ve been learning Japanese for quite a while now and I know a fairly big amount of words(in my perspective).
I have less and less unknown words every time I open a new lesson. But the problem I really often have is that,
I come across quite a lot of sentences where I know all the words, but I can’t grasp the meaning behind it.

Does that even happen to many people?
If yes, what do you guys usually do about this?

Thanks for the help in advance.

Knowing the words is usually a necessary condition for understanding, but it is often not a sufficient condition. I think the thing to do about it is to simply keep going. As your natural feel for the language and your knowledge of vocabulary improve, you will find fewer and fewer sentences that you don’t understand.


Thank you for your comment.
I sure hope that I will eventually have a natural grasp for sentences, it’s just after 2.5 years of learning it sometimes does make me a bit furious sometimes ugh.
I have actually though, that it has maybe something to do with me not listening enough?
It’s because I like reading a lot more than listening, so I tend to read a lot more. Who knows…

I don’t understand Japanese or German, but my own experience confirms this stated above ^^^^^^^

Ah, I’m also studying Japanese and face this problem!

However, like me, you probably remember times this happened before (maybe on a smaller scale) and now you understand those sentences. So with more exposure, it does pass.

I don’t know about you, but whenever I have those chunks of not understanding, despite knowing the words, I go on a “phrase hunt” for that paragraph in LingQ.

Either way, eventually it comes to you.

If you can understand it when you read, then I would definitely focus on more listening where you can.

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I have to admit that I understand a lot more when I read, compared to when I listen.
But also with reading I often get across sentences that are completely white ( aka I know all the words )
and I still not understand the meaning of it.
Also it is often the more casual Japanese that I have trouble understanding.
But I guess it comes with time as you say. Thank you for commenting.

Good Luck in your Japanese studies and never give up it’s immensely rewarding!

Man, I have the same problem. However, when I go to early lessons I understand them 100 %. So I am patient with myself.

For both Russian and German (the two languages I am active in learning at the moment), I understand more when I read. At the moment, I often hear simple short phrases in Russian that are clearly spoken and I know all the words and still have no idea what the sentence means. I remember the same thing as a beginner in German. I got over mostly it simply by pressing forward (though it still happens in German for more complicated sentences).

Thank you for the encouragement!

This is my first time learning a new language and I’m slowly learning the emotional ups and downs that come with it! Haha

The way I see it, understanding when listening is not really something that I do. It is something that simply happens. For example, when listening to German, I understand a huge amount, but also there is a huge amount that I still cannot understand. Assuming that I am concentrating on what I am listening to, there is basically no difference between what I do when I am listening to something that I understand and what I do when I am listening to something that I do not understand. When I understand, I simply hear the language and understand.

It seems that understanding is a totally unconscious process. I think we just need to expose ourselves to comprehensible material. The unconscious will do the work. Just listening to material that we almost or completely can read might be sufficient. For example, when I listen to Polish I either understand or not. There is no middle ground. The feeling of understanding is totally outside my control. I just understand and move on to the next sentence. If I listen to material about which I know nothing, it flies and I get nothing. It is just noise.

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You are right. I don’t listen to the stuff which I understand less than 70%. It gives nothing for my learning, it’s really just a noise.