Does anyone have a better mnemonic for differentiating 理 and 由 readings?

Since they are both “reason”, I keep mixing these up and saying 理 is ゆう… WK’s reading mnemonics don’t help me with these, does anyone have a different one that they use?

(sorry, not 100% sure which category this should go in)

1 Like

I’m not sure it’s super useful in your case, but 里 is a phonetic element, basically a bunch of the kanji that have it have the onyomi of り (can’t confirm at the moment if it’s 100%), though many are not common and thus not taught on WK.

Bolded ones appear in WK
, , *, 裡, 浬, 狸, 哩

*鯉 is taught but you never see the onyomi here


If you already know the readings of both, it’s easy to learn them.

理 has an “i” on the left. That’s the り reading.

1 Like

Thanks, I’m always on the lookout for those… I didn’t learn the onyomi for 里 yet though!

Yeah, you have to wait a while. Level 41 with 郷里


Have you seen this:

Still works for me, but not all elements are covered.

did you notice this kind of pattern yourself or is there a source (book/webpage etc) where I could read up on it? Would be great if there are more of these kind of rules where I can then know “if radical/kanji XY is part of another kanji/vocab then it will have e.g. always have the on’yomi reading sha”. Would make studying a bit easier :slightly_smiling_face:
Sorry if this is a total beginner question!

I’m not sure where I first heard about it, but I don’t remember ever being told it in class or in a kanji textbook, that’s for sure.

I think once you get far enough in studying kanji you’ll start to notice it by accident. “Oh, another kanji with the top hat on the right 祖租粗狙組 surprise surprise it has the onyomi of そ”. You’ll find yourself going “what the hell was this one… eh, I’ll guess そ because it feels right for some reason” and then you can look for more.

I’m not sure if there’s a good しゃ one, sorry :wink:

I just googled this, but here’s an article about the concept.


Great, thanks for the fast reply and the link! Also just saw the post about the wanikani app- will give that a go as well :blush:

I started getting this somewhere in the high teens to low 20’s levels.

I remember someone asking about that before on another thread somewhere. I’ll see if I can find it when I have time. (At work right now so can’t spend too much time on the forum.) Maybe someone did provide a link to sources that talked about it, I can’t remember. If they did, I’ll put them here.

1 Like

was digging in the forums a bit and thought other people might be interested as well, so here it is (in the appendix)


Not super helpful now, but you will see 理 show up in many vocab in the near future. It will be all but hammered into your head soon.

I already have a lot of vocab for it now :sweat_smile: I know the reading in the word, but I always forget when I see it by itself, because it’s mixed up with 由 in my brain.

I think Wanikani mentions it (I think only once) in one of the lessons, but I have no idea where.

Otherwise, I agree with @Leebo, I ended up noticing a bunch of them on my own.

1 Like

Both characters together say 理由 or りゆう so remembering that order should help. Failing that you could remember that the 由 part is used in very common names such as 由美 (Yumi) or 由美子 (Yumiko).

I’m not sure if you said that just for mnemonic purposes or something but it’s りゆう not りゅう.

Not a real mnemonic, but

理 - り - ri
由 - ゆう - yuu
The one with more strokes has the shorter reading
The one with less strokes has the longer reading.

I need to get japanese input on my PC, copy-pasting bits from inside the thread can only get me so far :stuck_out_tongue:

Yeah you’re right. My keyboard autocorrected to りゅう instead of りゆう ー Fixed

1 Like

James W. Heisig’s Remembering the Kanji book two covers readings (book one teaches you all the 2000+ kanji with one English meaning, no readings), and groups these together where same onyomi, putting those with same radical after each other as well as covering other kanji who also share that reading =)
He call them “Pure Groups”, and covers about 500 kanji in there. He also does semi pure, single use and no onyomi in groups.

Honestly never used it myself, since I never finished the first book (got to about 600, then they stopped giving you mnemonics and I sucked at making my own =P ) so I never used book two, but I remembered seeing something about it when I flicked through it so went and checked. Think I’ll use it more now along with WaniKani, for these Pure groups at least! =D

This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.