Source: Gaijin Pot
A common joke in the foreign community in Japan is that you know that you have achieved the jump from beginner to beginner-intermediate Japanese when 私（わたし） changes to 僕（ぼく）. Even though 私 and 僕 have the same meaning, for Japanese people in most casual occasions 私 is too formal and 僕 (or better yet, not using either) is more commonly used.
Perhaps the jump from beginner-intermediate to intermediate reading happens when learners get used to the ～ず endings. For people studying for the JLPT 2 or JLPT 3, it’s worth learning ～ず so that you can tackle the tricky reading of opinion pieces using this grammar form that crop up in exams. For the op-ed, the examiners search the web looking for the most bizarre or terrible opinions they can find to turn into questions for the exam.
As a general rule ～ず is equivalent to the ～ない ending. Therefore 行（い）かない (will not go) would become 行かず and 食（た）べない (do not eat) becomes 食べず. Be careful, as する changes to せず (or occasionally さず) instead of しず and 来（く）る (to come) changes to 来ず instead of きず, so don’t get confused.
Once you have gotten used to the basic form, the first grammar form that is useful to learn is ~ずに which links two concepts to mean that you don’t do A, but do B instead. So if A is, for example, テレビを見（み）ず (to not watch TV) and B is 勉強（べんきょう）する (I study), the sentence becomes: テレビを見ずに勉強した (without watching any television, I studied).
Other examples include: 彼（かれ）は言（い）わずに帰（かえ）った (without saying anything, he went home), 信号（しんごう）を見ずに道（みち）を渡（わた）ると危（あぶ）ない (crossing the road without looking at the signal is dangerous) and 連絡（れんらく）せずに会社（かいしゃ）を休（やす）む (absent from work without contacting the company).
Another common point is …continue reading