Failing vocabulary - consequences?

Hi guys. I’m relatively new to WK. I love it, the “game-like” element etc.

My really simple question is…

To progress as fast as possible, I have to get things into Guru, so I can unlock new lessons.

I figured this would be the case for radicals (new Kanji that use the radical) and Kanji (new vocabulary that use the Kanji), so failing them before getting them into Guru would have directly slow me down.
I may be able to fail one or two to get to the next level, as I have to get 90% of that level into Guru, right? So there is some lenience.

What if I fail vocabulary words? They don’t unlock consecutive vocabulary right?

In other words, failing radicals and Kanji is much worse for your progress, and of course you should try to get the vocabulary right, but it won’t slow you down too much if you do. Right?

You could literally get to level 60 without even doing a single vocab lesson if you wanted. Yes, they don’t unlock or affect anything.


Thank you! So they don’t even count into the 90% requirement. Interesting.

Of course, for actually learning and comprehending the language they are very vital. So I do my best. But it’s good to know this anyway!

Yeah, the 90% is just for that level’s kanji getting to guru status.

And obviously yes, the vocab are critical for your understanding, since each kanji lesson only teaches one reading for that kanji. The remainder of all possible readings are taught through vocab lessons (well, all possible readings that are taught… don’t want to give the impression that WK is exhaustive, but I think you get what I mean). So, good luck to you.


Yeah. I usually get Kanji and radicals right. Most of the errors is in vocab. So far it’s very few still. I assume it may go up as I progress and cramp in all that information.

I mean at first I was confused as to why I would get a mistake when I put in the on’yomi reading when I get a vocab review. But I guess it makes sense. If they stand by itself in a sentence they can represent a single-kanji word and have to be read and understood that certain way.

Thank you again

Vocab becomes easier the further along in your studies you go. Not only do you get better at learning but you also get used to the way words are constructed and when different readings will be used. Of course you will still get a lot of curveballs thrown at you but it does get a lot easier.

Though the majority of my mistakes are in vocab and pretty much all my leeches are also vocab.


that is promising. I thought it would be the opposite. Especially if you try to advance as fast as WK lets you go.

Will rendaku ever make sense? or is that rarely a problem for you? i guess you can read up the rules somewhere.

Rendaku will occasionally surprise you but you also get used to where they are used. After a while you will be able to predict if a word will have one and much of the time you will be correct. I wouldn’t say it makes sense but you get a bit of a feel for it.


Once you start to notice the patterns in kanji that come from phonetic elements, it’s actually pretty common to be able to guess the readings for a decent chunk of the new kanji you’ll see in a level.


Although you can sometimes guess the reading from the phonetic components, you should guess the reading from the meaning and the existing vocab repertoire in your brain. So that, it would be easier for exceptions and Kun reading compounds.

For example, 流行->fad->はやり、りゅうこう; instead of 流行->流+行->りゅう+こう->りゅうこう->fad.

This will also help not only with exceptions in Rendaku, but also exceptional reading.

Japanese is such a language that Kanji can say one thing, but Furigana can say the other thing, isn’t?

Yeah, I tell everyone I do EN->Kana, ignoring the Kanji. – on or [Userscript] Self-Study Quiz (But, I actually use Anki with Core 10k breakdown, though.)


Huh, I think I get what you mean? But not sure how to “force” this process.

I mean words like 水中, 子犬 are easy for me because we learn both kanji readings before. I think the word for puppy is only kunyomi so an exception. But still. It’s great to be able to get a new word’s reading right just by knowing the kanji’s onyomi.

I think with some repetition the meaning just stucks automatically atleast for me. For example I would always think biidama instead of biitama first for ビー玉.

By the way, you guys already are 60. Good job and congrats. There is not much to do now for you guys, right? Are you still regularly doing the reviews if there are any? Or all burned?

Still 2397 enlightened items (and more at lower levels), so I’ll be doing reviews for some time.


Basically all of my leeches are vocab, but once I stated realizing that getting vocab wrong doesn’t hold back my progress, I don’t get stressed out about them anymore. Like If i’m about to guru a kanji and i get the reading wrong I’ll give myself another try with the overwrite script. But with vocab, It’s nice to learn them kinda without stress? The leeches are still annoying and they always will be, but i’m thankful to realize I can relax with my vocab and not beat myself up tooooo much about it

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The main problem with ignoring vocab will be getting to the point where you have a excessively large number of review items- even if you don’t care to actually review the vocab and speed through them, they’ll eventually take up a lot of time. I think it would drive me crazy.

Unless you use the reorder script to never have to do vocab lessons at all, but then you’re severely gimping your understanding because you will have an incomplete knowledge of the kanji readings.

So yeah. I recommend giving the vocab your best try.

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I don’t think anyone in this thread is suggesting or endorsing ignoring vocab, just saying that technically on wanikani, it doesn’t count towards level progression.

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Yeah, that’s fair, but the topic was asking about consequences of failing vocabulary. And the consequence is, if you fail enough of them, your review stack will become harder and harder to manage, which does indirectly slow your progress by making it harder to get to the kanji that matter to your level up.

On a technical level the vocab don’t matter, but on a practical level they do.


My experience is that, no, rendaku will never make sense. I thought I could see through the matrix before, but I have changed my mind. When rendaku is applied it’s never counterintuitive… but weather there will be rendaku or not is something I just have to learn.

On the other hand, a related issue is when to “chiisai the tsu”. This is more predictable (the answer is “yes, generally you chiisai the tsu”). For example, is it てつてい or てってい, is ちょくこう or ちょっこう? I think I have developed a feel for this. Time will tell if it’s just another illusion waiting to be crushed.


I think one of the biggest considerations for locating occasions of rendaku is to think how a native speaks. Unlike English, the Japanese use minimal jaw and lip motion when speaking, relying on the throat and tongue to produce most sounds. The exception to this is when get っ (small tsu). If you try to say ビー玉 without moving your jaw, you’ll find it’s actually very difficult to even perform a “t” sound without stopping the sound entirely. If you do accomplish it, you’ve likely produced a strange intonation akin to a mumble. Meanwhile, the “d” sound only requires light tongue movement, making a clear vowel sound on both ends.

Another good example is 年中(ねんじゅう). While the kana is strange (as WaniKani explains), the rendaku makes sense. The ん sound places the tongue along the top of the mouth. As the “ch” sound requires passageway between the tongue and the roof of the mouth, attempting this after the ん sound builds pressure and results in a full stop. Meanwhile, the “j” sound is produced by simply removing the tongue from the top of the mouth, allowing a fluid transition.

Rendaku is developed by the pattern of areas of the mouth used per mora (syllable). If the previous sound uses the front or top of the mouth, it is likely the next syllable will not. If you observe many Japanese tongue twisters, they are usually combinations of words that would normally get rendaku’d if they were legitimate compound words.

The problem with these kinds of “it’s easier to say it this way so they do it this way” examples is that they don’t help with the core of the problem, which is finding exceptions. Take 連中 (れんちゅう). Of course, れんじゅう is an alternative form, but れんちゅう is what you’re likely to hear. So… you’re left not having an obvious way to tell the situations apart.

That is true, but I feel it’s easier to remember exceptions than the remember everything. In general, rendaku was formed because certain words were uncomfortable to say for Japanese speakers. English is already a gross, complicated language in its requirements for mouth usage, so we don’t tend to see that as easily. I think names are the one area where rendaku seems incredibly inconsistent. We teach that silent “e” changes a vowel sound, yet there are plenty of problem words like “have” and “glove,” but it’s easier to know that rule than to have to remember the particular behavior of every word containing the concept.