How to deal with vocabulary written out in kana?

Hey, guys.

If there’s one single thing that’s been tripping me up for awhile while reading it’s seeing words I definitely know, but they’re written in kana so I never actually recognize them. How do you combat this? It happens far too often. If I saw あかい I wouldn’t think ‘red’ at all. To me, 赤い -> あかい -> ‘red’. Without the kanji, I’m totally lost most the time.


I am also very bad at this and am a gremlin that has not invested a lot of time in grammar study yet, so take what I say with a grain of salt.

For me so far it’s been a matter of knowing a lot of vocabulary and being able to deduce which of the possible options is the most logical for the context of the sentence. Since I know a lot more grammar since the start of WaniKani, I can kind of filter out the grammar artifacts from a sentence and find isolated parts of words that I can try to translate by filling in the most logical translation option for the isolated word. Kind of like your IME does:


I’m bad at it though since I

An example however:


The grammar parts in this sentence are:


In the largest “word” is a part that kind of looks like “to stop something”: 止めるとめる, so let’s just isolate that one and hope for the best.

かれはしりさるのを 止めるとめるひつようある

Now we can kind of see the separate words, so we can kind of fill in the meanings (/google the meaning of はしりさる because what the heck is that)

かれ most likely means かれ, a quick google search gave はしりさる as “to run away” or 走り去るはしりさる, ひつよう is probably 必要ひつよう and ある probably is just the form of “to be”, resulting in:

かれ 走り去るはしりさる のを 止めるとめる 必要ひつよう ある

In total, the sentence can be constructed as:

かれ 走り去るはしりさる ___のを ___止めるとめる ____必要ひつよう ___ ある
He __ running away_____stopping him_essential___to be

It is essential that he is stopped from running away.

It’s kind of a crickety construction so far, but I’ve kind of managed to struggle along with this technique. I’d love to hear other people’s ideas about this though. They’ll probably be much better than mine.

I hope this kind of helps though.


I would say try something like KaniWani which literally prompts you with definitions from WK’s vocab list and gets you to answer in kana (even uses SRS-style)…

…except I quit KaniWani because the synonym thing was utterly infuriating and three SRS queues took up way too much time. :slight_smile:


Oh, I do use KW. By synonyms, are you referring to getting something like 中々 mixed up with 大いに? I have the same issue, actually. :weary:

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Surprisingly, this was probably the only instance where I didn’t get confused with the kana upon first reading that sentence, lmao! Next time I am, though, I’ll stop, breath and take your advice as you laid it out. Thank you.


Practice makes perfect… if you go to this site:

Click on a story and select the ひらがな link… I think lots of stories on this site can be displayed either way.


Thanks! I will check it out when I’m at home.


I feel like just consuming more content and getting more experience solves this on its own.

You have learned the word あかい, but you have not fully integrated it into all aspects of your language production and processing.

Something that could accelerate that is doing writing drills. I do Kanji Kentei drills every day, and for the writing ones you have to be able to produce the kanji from memory for the given word. And you can’t do that if you can’t recall what the word is on its own.


A lot of good advice already! I think one other thing that might help is to say the word out loud. It turns the reading exercise into a listening exercise! And in listening you never get the kanji, so you just have to recognize it. If you still have no idea, it might be an entirely new word.


There’s another service called KameSame, and it actually has the synonym capabilities lacking in KaniWani. I tried both (only for a few lessons because honestly I’m still new), but KameSame seemed the superior choice. That and it uses the API2 of WaniKani, so yay!


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