おも白い? 文ぽう? Why do WK's example sentences seem to randomly replace kanji with hiragana?

It’s something I keep noticing, so I thought I’d ask. There are tons of examples of this, but here is last one I saw:


Why does WK drop the first kanji in 面白い, or the second kanji in 文法? It doesn’t have to do with which kanji I’ve encountered in WK, because they often include kanji that I have not yet encountered.

It’s weird and makes the sentences a bit unpleasant to read. I don’t think we’re going to encounter おも白い anywhere else in our Japanese reading.

Not a huge deal, but kinda annoying.


As far as I know, they’re trying to use kanji already covered in WK on lower levels.

There have been complaints that the example sentences were too difficult for lower level, due to use of kanji not yet taught through WK, so they’re trying to make it more beginner-friendly. :slight_smile:


I would email the staff. According to this post from @JenK they are trying to fix this so you don’t have those weird-looking sentences:


Yeah, what @Omun said. But the third example sentence always has proper kanji usage, even ones that you haven’t encountered yet (on WK, at least).

This is exactly how people write and are presented with kanji before they learn them in school. Teachers don’t write furigana on the board, they just use hiragana where the kids don’t know kanji. And the kids write only the kanji they know, like if they are writing about Korea and they don’t know 韓, which is learned rather late, they write かん国.

So, it may be unfamiliar to most learners of Japanese, but it’s not unusual to Japanese people.

That’s not a judgement on it or anything. I’m not saying it’s better than furigana.

But I see it every day at school, so you might see it at some point.


Oh thanks. I didn’t see that thread.

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Seconding Leebo on this one. I also learned Japanese this way in my classes.

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Seconding this. I would be teaching 1st and 2nd grade kids who haven’t learned their name kanji yet, so their little name cards on their desks would have one symbol in kanji and the rest in hiragana.

So, it may be unfamiliar to most learners of Japanese, but it’s not unusual to Japanese people.

Yes, I have seen this a bit in kids learning materials. I still think there is no benefit here for us adult learners, especially because it seems pretty random and it requires extra effort to read.

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Many people will encounter similar constructions when they start reading, since most won’t step into adult full-kanji novels from the get-go, and will likely read things aimed at kids and teens. And as said, the last example sentence is still in full kanji, so you get both the experiences.

And they can’t make everyone happy, unfortunately. They changed it because people made threads asking the exact opposite for what you’re asking. And for a learning resource that doesn’t presume prior knowledge other than kana, I think it makes the most sense to opt for what is most accessible to beginners.


It’s OK if they want to make it just kana, though I’d prefer kanji. The mix makes no sense for all the points discussed here and in the thread linked to above. The fact that kids use a somewhat similar style isn’t as relevant as it may seem because that style is logical and builds on what they know, where this style is seemingly random, or at least inconsistent. It is the worst of both worlds, so I think it’s good that people gave feedback, and great that the developers listened and started making changes.

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It’s the same principle though. They don’t use kanji you haven’t seen on WaniKani yet. I mean… again, not supporting it over furigana or another system, but I don’t think it’s random or anything.

The main problem is that Japanese people know more words, and thus can guess what words will appear in sentences even without the full context kanji can help provide. We don’t have that when we first start.


I actually prefer the way things are currently. If they put Kanji you didn’t yet know, you wouldn’t be able to read it anyway. This is a progressive learning method. Though, the downside is that even after learning the Kanji, those sentences are set in stone, they won’t dynamically update to include the Kanji you learned. I copy all sentences into my SRS, and later update the Kana parts of the sentences after I’ve encountered the Kanji, or I do it right then and there if I already know the Kanji from somewhere else (Duolingo and 2K Core).

They could just add a toggle to switch between Kanji and Kana.

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I see things like 子ども all the time when reading children’s books for practice. Similarly, not exactly defending this approach for example sentences on WK, but I don’t think it’s completely useless or unhelpful to see this kind of representation in a learning context first.

@Haios I think the request is to replace the word entirely with hiragana if any of the kanji are unknown. I don’t think the request is to go back to using unknown kanji.

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The problem that I have with this half-and-half style is that if you are trying to use a sentence parsing tool like ichi.moe to assist in reading these sentences, it causes the tools to fail. For example, when I ran the sentence from the OP in both ichi.moe and Jisho, they parsed ‘おも白い’ as if it were two separate words and failed to parse 文ぽう as 文法. Whereas if the words were simply all kana, the tools successfully parse those words correctly.

So it really can make it heard to try to decipher sentences if you are just starting out and don’t know that ‘おも白い’ is meant to be ‘面白い’ as a single word.

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Wait, Jisho does this now? Is this on the new site layout only?

I’d personally argue that being able to mentally parse sentences is a good skill to cultivate early on. On the other hand, my bias here is that I manually parse sentences, so if you’re using something else to parse, I can see how this would be a real roadblock.

When has it not? I admit I’ve only been using it for the past year or so, but it’s always supported it for as long as I’ve used the site.

Sure, but even manually parsing, if I was still a beginner I would probably still assume that おも is separate from 白い as I’ve yet to have learned 面白い. But at least if it’s all kana, I can run it through an assistance tool to actually discover the correct word.

I started using Jisho about 6-ish years ago and there used to be a different layout (which you can access through classic.jisho.org). As far as I used it, it couldn’t parse sentences, but maybe I just didn’t know how to.

I manually parsed sentences when I was a beginner too, and this type of issue is common, I agree. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I also tested pretty much any combination of things in the sentence while I was at it, so I’d eventually catch that it was supposed to be 面白い.

Is it practical? Admittedly no, not really. I wouldn’t argue for everyone to start doing it that way, I just think it could be helpful in building a skill to help with reading later on.


It might, or it might just be frustrating and discouraging especially since none of the manga, graded readers or news articles I’ve ever read uses such a style to write. So I don’t see how the frustration yields any real word gains to me since in my, limited of course, experience jukugo words are either written entirely in kanji or entirely in kana.

I realize my complaint is a quintessential first-world problem, but it just seems to make the process of learning far more difficult and confusing than it need be.

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That would be easily solved if we could see the reading of the kanji by hovering the mouse over the unknown kanjis.