Finishing Wanikani before starting to learn grammar

Hello everyone,
I tried for a while to learn some vocab with wanikani and some grammar with text books at the same time, but I realised that i don’t have the time to do both at once.

So my question is : do you think that learning all the vocab from wanikani and then starting to learn japanese grammar afterward could be a viable way to learn japanese ?

Thank you and I wish you a great day !


Sure, it is one way. Though, I would strongly discourage it. Ẁanikani in Isolation is a terrible tool to learn Japanese.

Learning all the Kanji and Vocabulary on Wanikani in isolation makes it much harder to remember the content. You will forget most of the higher level stuff when you finally go to do grammar, and will have forgotten most by the time it actually becomes relevant to you. It is a MEGA inefficient way to learn Japanese.
In my opinion, you actually have to engage with the language. And to engage with the language, you need some form of grammar.
Now the form you do the grammar in can be whatever (books, lookups when you stumble upon something, YouTube videos, etc.), but it is an ESSENTIAL part to engage with the language.

Since you seem to have lifetime, why not pause WK for a while (only do reviews, until the load becomes low enough) and do some other stuff with the language. When you feel you made enough progress in other fields (reading, speaking, listening, grammar, writing etc.) you can always come back and start lessons back up again. With 10 levels under your belt, you actually have a quite nice foundation of Kanji and some words to built on. But many Kana only words and grammar are also really important.

Believe me, at some point you will feel like Kanji is the part of Japanese that is holding you back the most, and THAT is the time to focus more on Wanikani again.

All of this is my opinion, so YMMV.


In terms of efficiency, starting with grammar guides is optimal around your level.

At this point, the kanji used in most learning material is kanji that you’ve now already covered and so it’s complementary to start with grammar now. You’ll see how the things that you’ve learned already fit in.

Get to it!


Nope. If you’re going to pause one of the two, focus on grammar. N5+N4 grammar is used all the time, without it you’ll have a hard time using your Japanese for anything. Learn some high frequency vocab on top of that and you’ll be able to understand easy Japanese. With just lvl 60, you won’t :person_shrugging:


I mean it’s viable, but I would reconsider. Your reason for not doing both is that you don’t have time, but more often than not time can be made where you try to make it. If you want to be able to speak and understand japanese in under 2 years and expect to get level 60, I can only assume you have some non-zero amount of free time a day.


I’d like to add that once you reach somewhere between level 10 and 20, you face rapidly diminishing returns for time spent in Wanikani. If time for study is limited, an hour of grammar or vocab study per day is going to strengthen your Japanese skills considerably faster than an hour of Wanikani.


Thank you some much for your answer. I think i will alternate like you said between wanikani and grammar and see where it goes.

Have a nice day !


Thank you guys all for your return !

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I feel like learning all the kanji before learning any grammar is like building a house by decorating the rooms before you’ve built the walls.


Or like making a risotto before pouring in the rice


Ideally you want to expose yourself to a little bit of every aspect of the language (grammar, kanji, listening etc.), rather than “finishing” one and moving on to the next. Everything ties together, and you’ll find that knowing some kanji makes learning certain grammar points easier and vice versa.


I agree. And I love both feelings: seeing a kanji somewhere, and being like “hehe I actually knows this kanji thanks to WK”, or seeing a new kanji in a lesson in WK and being like “hehe I actually already knew this kanji from seeing it many times in my grammar book”.


Have you heard of WK Stats? If you are extremely limited for time and need to make hard decisions on what to focus on, it might be useful to compare your WK kanji level with either the JLPT* or frequency (see the charts tab) to help decide what to focus on. Right now, you would know nearly all of the N5 Kanji* and about half of the top 500 most frequently used kanji. So you could consider slowing down on WK lessons and focusing on N5 grammar and vocab to build a foundation.

What works for me to minimize time dedicated to WK is just doing reviews on my phone whenever I get a few minutes free. Some people prefer the predictability and efficiency of having set times of day, but that just doesn’t work well with my schedule. I do have set 15min blocks (before I get out of bed, right when I get home from work, and before I turn off the lights to sleep) but other than that I squeeze in what I can even if its just two or three reviews–walking from my car, waiting for a meeting to start, taking a stretch break, bathroom, commercial, etc. The more I can get done in these “dead times” the less I have waiting for me later. The downside is I may miss the “optimal review window” and forget a kanji, but that’s mostly only an issue for the apprentice and guru stages. I do something similar for JP podcasts/audiobooks–when doing house chores, cooking, excersizing, commuting, etc I put in my headphones/car bluetooth and listen to maximize use of my time.

(*) There are no official JLPT lists, just best estimates


I think the initial response from @downtimes hits the nail on the head. If you study grammar, vocab, and kanji while also reading, listening, and speaking (in amounts you can handle), they all synergize with each other. Especially the relationship between reading <–> kanji. Nothing locks a tricky kanji meaning into place for me like seeing it appear in an article I’ve read alongside some context I’m interested in. Great question!!


You could just temporary stop doing new lessons and just quickly do reviews only. I agree with everyone else that waiting until after level 60 to do grammar is a huge mistake. Not only do you want to do your reviews/review your burned items, but you want to get into reading too. Reading will be a huge challenge if you know zero grammar.

If you like manga there is a Japanese language learning manga called Crystal Hunters. Each volume has a guide. The guide has vocabulary list, but also grammar explanations too. There is also two Japanese language learning video games out in development you could wishlist on Steam that will be teaching grammar. Nihongo Quest N5 and Shujinkou.

As for grammar apps there is Bunpro, Bunpo, Japanese Grammar: Coban, Renshuu, etc.

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That sounds like a recipe for disaster. If you don’t immerse while learning kanji you’ll just forget them. But you do you.

That’s basically what I did when I went through WaniKani the first time. A year and a half after hitting level 60, I reset to level 20. I would say WaniKani was a good motivator to keep studying consistently despite having no idea how to actually learn grammar. However, if you finish WaniKani without really knowing how to read, you’ve got no way to actually use what you’ve learned. If you don’t use it, you’re going to forget.

Books and manga targeted at kids use a lot of kana, so you need to read harder material grammar-wise to see the rarer kanji that you actually know. I’d recommend doing both at once, or slowing down on WaniKani so you have more time for grammar.


I only started gramamr at lvl 30 here in WK, no regrets.

if I had started earlier It would be a chore to spend most of the time trying to translate the sentence rather than focusing the grammar point.


Originally I blazed through WK levels 1-17 without any context. Then corona hit and I took a long break. I forgot quite a lot of things!

Then I reset to level 11 (around your level) and this time around, went slower with WK, and simultaneously started learning grammar (I recommend Japanese Ammo with Misa on youtube using her absolute beginner series, + bunpro if you can afford it). This works way better for me! My learning has context now, and I can actually apply the kanji knowledge from wanikani in simple ways already. Now I am level 18 on WK, and have almost complete N5 grammar knowledge.

Kana mastery + Level 10 Wanikani is the ideal point in time to start incorporating grammar. Have fun, it will be great :slight_smile: In fact, do not postpone it for the simple reason that N5 grammar is fun, not hard, and very powerful already in a real life context, and you can do mostly with just the kanji you will learn in levels 11-20.


I think other people have covered pretty well why finishing wanikani before starting grammar is not a great idea. I just want to touch on the fact that WaniKani should be used as a kanji learning resource, not necessarily a vocab learning resource.

The vocab words wanikani teaches you are mainly there to help reinforce the kanji you’re learning, not necessarily because they’re common everyday words that beginners should know. Don’t get me wrong, some words that wanikani teaches you are very useful, but many are not, especially not for beginners. Wanikani also (understandably) doesn’t teach you everyday words that aren’t written in kanji.

An example of this is the word 助言 which is taught very early on (I don’t remember which level). Wanikani lists this word as meaning “advice,” which is true, but only in formal written contexts. In everyday life, no one will actually say 助言, they’ll say アドバイス. WaniKani will never teach アドバイス because it wasn’t built as a vocab resource, but as a kanji resource.

tldr; take vocab learning from wk with a grain of salt