Are there incorrect vocab words on WK? How best to supplement vocab with other sources?

I had a short conversation with a reddit user who told me that they felt that WK had lots of incorrect translations of vocab words on the basis that they would talk with native speakers who would tell them “no one says that” when using vocab words that they learned on WK.

They were unable to give me any examples of incorrect vocab words so I’m thinking it could be a case of them being biased against the sight and trying to turn people off from it, but I want to see if this complaint is truly valid or not.

On a sidenote, how much vocab should we try to learn outside of wanikani? I know it can’t teach everything, but I’d have no idea how to create say an anki deck that would include words with kanji I know that aren’t taught by WK, so any ideas on that would be helpful.

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They’re all real words… Most people just don’t say them anymore.

There aren’t incorrect vocab words in the sense that they ARE correct. It’s just that some of the vocab is outdated? I remember a thread a while back talking about this issue with 里心. Like that reddit user said, the vocab is just stuff no one says anymore. But it’s not wrong. (And dammit I was sniped)

Wanikani uses vocabulary to drill the kanji into your head, and pretty much only for that purpose, so you will need to supplement your vocabulary with outside sources for sure.

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Well, it’s kind of half right. I think translations that could be termed incorrect are very few and far between, if there’s even any. However, there are a lot of unusual to borderline obsolete words floating around on here. In my opinion, WK could do a lot better job of flagging them up, but they are words.

I think something like the word “yearn” would be a good example in English. If you told someone you were yearning for a Dr Pepper, that would certainly be odd - but it wouldn’t be wrong and, while it’s little used, yearn is a word that most native speakers would know and understand.


You should definitely supplement your vocab. I’d recommend an Anki 10k deck with audio


Okay that’s good to know. I mean even knowing old words should definitely help with reading texts that use more obtuse language even if they’re vocab you want encounter in daily life. My goal is to be able to read and understand everything, not just to be conversationally competent.

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When using such a deck is it possible to pick and choose which words you work on so they don’t use kanji I haven’t learned through WK or my grammar studies yet? @Kumirei

There are plenty of such decks available. Check out the ones on the resource wiki


I downloaded the one on that page, however it has a lot of vocab for words already taught by WK and phrases/sentences with kanji not from that level (I posted about it asking for help here: Question about Anki 10K deck by WK level?)

Mostly I don’t want to cover old material that WK has downsolid, so should I just delete vocab I already know from the deck?

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I haven’t used that one myself but I’ll download it and have a look

if you run across something in an anki deck you already know, you can just delete the card right then and there, or you can hit “suspend.”

Being a bit of a completionist, I like to leave the card in the deck and set the interval to something huge – 6 months or something. Every mature card in an Anki deck feels like a little record of something accomplished. But not everyone uses anki the same way, for sure!


You have to understand what WK is. It teaches kanji and thus all of the vocab is kanji vocab, so you get a lot of jukugo words.

IIRC, a Japanese dictionary is comprised of 70% jukugo words of Chinese origin, but in conversation, those kinds of words only make up 30% of words spoken. Words of Japanese origin are much, much more common in speech, while the Chinese jukugo words are much more common in writing.

This reddit user didn’t do their research before they just started spouting words they learned.

EDIT: Woops, it’s supposed to be 50% of the dictionary is jukugo words of Chinese origin, not 70%.


Wanikani doesn’t teach usage! There are no incorrect words, as far as I’ve seen. There are, however, incorrect translations. I’ve notice a number of them, though I don’t have examples right now. I do not focus much on the example sentences - not a strength of Wanikani IMO.

Interesting. Is there anything more to read about these words of different origin the context of the written/spoken language?

I think the main thing is that WK teaches you kanji and vocabulary made from that kanji in order for you to be able to read Japanese. That is the main reason to learn here. Speaking Japanese will of course be different, as the language used in books versus speech of your own native language will be as well. Usually only people who are big into reading have these larger vocabularies.



You can also search “So Much Vocab!” a thread with many decks made and/or collected by hinekidori-先輩. Plenty of more options there. : D

One thing I’ve noticed is that WaniKani doesn’t do well with multiple words with the same reading that have a different nuance. For example, I just learned 務める (つとめる). This has the same reading as 勤める and WaniKani lists the definitions as being the same. However, according to, 勤める usually has a nuance of working for someplace (e.g. a restaurant) while 務める usually has a nuance of working as something (e.g. a waitress).


Wanikani’s own breadstick ninja created an alternate vocab list based on WK kanji. Whether you download the anki deck or use the memrise page (linked below), it’s worth using. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across vocab where I know the kanji but haven’t learned that specific pairing on Wanikani. Sometimes you can guess the meanings but most of the time it’s difficult (at least to me it is). If you like anki, it might be better to use the anki because you can add meanings on there and memrise you can’t.

Very good point, its a good thing that being able to read anything in Japanese is my primary goal for now! Though that could change if I get some opportunity to go to Japan for more than a vacation in the future.

Thanks for the link, I’ll check it out. I’ve had a lot of trouble with getting Anki to import things correctly so I’ll see if I can get the memrise version to work, thanks so much for sharing this!

If I try to take one of the JLPT tests in the future, do you think this deck should have me pretty much covered with the vocab, aside from things like katakana loan words and of course grammar based vocab?