I keep getting these wrong... と・とう・きょ・きょう・そ・そう

I keep getting these wrong… と・とう・きょ・きょう・そ・そう. Does anyone have a good tip to memorize when the end is just “O” and when its “OU”. I get this wrong on a daily basis and need to move forward… THANKS! :innocent:

I don’t have any great tips – I struggle with this as well – but I would suggest memorising well one vocabulary word which contains the kanji and listening carefully to the pronunciation of that word. Then you can recall the sound of the word as you read the kanji. At least that’s how I do it.

It does get a bit easier as you go along but there is no magic fix.


You have two main ways to deal with this.
You can lean in heavily into the mnemonics, to make those carry you until you memorize them for a kanji.
Or you can listen to the audio more carefully. Long vowels are around twice as long as short ones, so they are really noticeable. There are options to autoplay audio in lessons and reviews, I’d suggest turning those on.
Btw, this gets way easier, once you are familiar with the more common readings. There aren’t that many of them and once you get used to it, you can easily attach a new kanji to its reading.


I’m not sure if this helps but maybe try to imagine little things with きょ and bigger things with きょう
In this one lesson there’s this mnemonic to bury your dirt from the past in little kyoto and they used this as an example to make sure that I only use きょ instead of きょう.

So whatever the topic of the mnemonic is, try to imagine it as a small thing right away and it might help.


I do this too and this helps a lot.

The main problem is that wanikani teaches you きょ and きょう = kyoto
So this little / bigger thing is very helpfull in this case

with そ, そう i do kind the same. そう is big, think of soooooo big
Another problem comes in when it´s not う but お


Never underestimate the power of sheer repetition.

As others have stated it does get easier.

I strongly agree with the comments about listening to the audio. Learn to distinguish the sounds easily when you hear them first, then mimic saying words out loud yourself every time you review.

Eventually, saying a word both ways out loud (or in your mind) before answering will be enough to get it right most of the time. One way will start to sound off if you get it wrong enough times.

There are many more of these than the ones you listed, by the way. しゅ vs. しゅう tends to be my nemesis.

Fwiw, I think the only real option is to rely on rote memorization and sheer repetition. There are no rules. These sounds are as different as B and V in English (R and L might be an even better example).

Oh: and it’s most important to get it right with vocabulary rather than Kanji. With Kanji it’s easiest to think of some 熟語 compound-word that uses the character when trying to remember the reading. This only helps after you’ve guru’d the character, of course.

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Thanks for the advices, everyone. It’s nice to get some support :innocent:

every time you do a review, say the word/kanji one hiragana at a time, clapping on each hiragana. so と would be one clap and とう would be two (and remember that ん and っ also get their own clap).

you’ll feel like an idiot doing it, but it’s so helpful for learning to distinguish and reproduce the sounds. once you have them internalised, learning which one goes with what word is a lot easier. plus it will help your pronunciation a lot…

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