Having trouble remembering meaning of "以__" vocab words

Hey everyone,

Currently making my way through level 7, but for the life of me I can’t make a meaningful and easy to understand mnemonic for the words 以前、以後、以上、etc. I’ve been reviewing them for more than a week and I still can’t get them right for more than a couple times in a row, or not confuse one with another. “By the means of ____” is just such a over complicated and weird way of thinking about a single vocab word.

Any tips would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

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In many of these words you mentioned, it doesn’t mean “by means of.” It means “from” or “since.”

以前 “from before then”
以後 “from after then”
以上 “from there and up”
以下 “from there and down”

An example of it having the “by means of” meaning in a compound is the reasonably advanced word 以心伝心, which means when two people seem to communicate without words. “by means of heart, communicate to heart”

So… I think this is just a failure of the English resources that use “by means of” as the primary meaning of the kanji.

If you want a source for what I said, check out the meaning section of its entry on Kanjipedia


Probably one of the contributing factors to choosing “by means of” as a primary meaning for it, is that the word 以て (もって) is written with this kanji, and it means “by means of.”

So people probably think “well, when you see it alone, this is what it means” and go with that. But 以て is usually written in hiragana, and it’s an N1 level word, and WK doesn’t even bother to teach it.


That makes alot more sense, thank you. I had a feeling there was an easier way of thinking about it, but couldn’t come up with the right phrasing/mindset. I’m really liking Wanikani so far, but kanji like this (used in multiple different yet similar vocab words) could definitely be introduced with a simpler meaning, until a more complicated one is needed later.

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