After awhile, I can't remember radicals -- does it matter?

For example, I find it hard to remember if the “本” radical means “book” or “real” or “main” or “true.” I also have a tendency to forget Wanikani’s stories after awhile. Nevertheless, I am proceeding nicely (currently at level 19; averaging 12 days per level for the last five levels). How important is it to nail down those old radicals?

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If you mean you can’t remember what their specific WK key-word is, I don’t think that’s important at all. All the words you listed are legitimate meanings for 本, regardless of which particular word WK wants.


It’s also completely normal to forget the mnemonics after a while. They’re just a tool to get it into your long-term memory faster.


Although depending on your goals, you might want to keep the mnemonics in your head anyway. Personally, I’m not (specifically) learning to write any of the kanji right now, but I’ll want to later - and keeping the mnemonics in my mind is going to help me with that.


Beware that it’s easy to recognize many of the kanji on sight at the lower levels, because not many of them are similar. I had a few I didn’t really look at, just recognized the vague shape. So it’s easy to do without the mnemonics. But those mnemonics are going to save you when later ones are very similar to the earlier ones and “vague shape” isn’t good enough.

With that said, once you start recognizing them on sight again even with the smaller differences, the mnemonics can go away again. I actually would use the SRS theory and NOT study something until you find out you need to. Just saying, the mnemonics (and thus the radicals used in the mnemonics) aren’t totally worthless.


Yeah, like if I showed my mom, who doesn’t know any Japanese, 一 and 鬱, and asked her to remember which was which in a week, she could probably do it because there’s basically no way to mix them up.

But if I showed her 未 and 末 she’d probably be just as well off flipping a coin.


The real pros go a step further and forget the kanji. The fluent ones basically have no recollection of the vocab either.


May I point out to check if you are making enough personal references for your stories. When you read the stories, check if you are visualizing yourself with multiple senses like touch, smell, colors, sounds, feelings in your stories. That way you may gain more retention, according to my experience.

It doesn’t imo, though I’m open to other perspectives. The radicals are only there to help you learn the kanji. It doesn’t really matter if you don’t remember an exact radical, as long as you know the kanji associated to it.

i had to check twice. thought this reply came from a guy named syphus.

don’t be like syphus.

Syphus got so fluent they even forgot about WK.

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yeah, i think we call that superfluous :laughing:

I’m usually the one mistaken for syphus.


lol, no. you’re our resident nice uncle :slight_smile:

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