Ignore radicals

If I get the related Kanji right, does it matter if I just ignore the radicals and just keep marking the as correct. It occurred to me because I just put “canopy” for the radical “cliff”, and I was fine with it being registered as an error since it is an error, after all, but it got me thinking. Does it achieve anything at all if I’m getting the Kanji right?

Maybe it does because the radical comes back later as part of other Kanji and the mnemonic will be harder to remember if in failing the radical?



The radicals are mostly to help you get better at chunking the kanji into smaller parts and also for the mnemonics. As the kanji get more complex, the mnemonics are more helpful imo, at least for the kanji and vocab that don’t use the phonetic composition. I wish I had used this script from the beginning. It tells you if a kanji is made of phonetic components or if it is a phonetic component.


This is very important here. It might not feel like they’re doing much, but knowing their names means you can remember which mnemonic matches which. And later on the kanji get more and more same-y, which can be helped by knowing exactly what radicals you’re looking at. Canopy unfortunately is one that along many, many times, even in level 60.

It would be better to write that radical down a few times, and say the name aloud while you’re doing it. I bet writing this thread about it has even already enforced it though.


This post is kinda wild to me because I think the main appeal of WK is that it teaches new kanji based on the radicals you learn.

The radical system is important because eventually you’ll get kanji that all look really similar but with slight differences in the radicals that make them up. You can probably get by without memorizing them for the first ten levels, but you’ll really need to know the differences when you get a bit higher.

You can rename the radicals in your head or in the reviews if you want, and make up your own ways of telling them apart, but I would definitely suggest learning the different radicals.



Very succinct, though very convincing

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The lower level can get away without the radical, but you would be in big trouble at a higher level because there are too many strokes, and visually similar kanji appears. I am particularly at trouble with visually similar kanji and need to slow down to recognize the radicals.

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Sometimes I need to look at kanji side by side to find the difference in radicals to distinguish them.

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Well, radicals are simply means to help you remember the kanji… Personally, I find them very useful…

I think that in the end it all comes down to what you yourself perceive as more effective…


I second @trunklayer in both points.

I do admit, though, that some of the radicals are pesky little bggrs… that’s why my personal series of radicals includes ‘anti grav pad’, ‘tango’, ‘pizza oven’, and the very useful ‘four things’ :laughing:

anyway, since a lot of the radicals come back as an identical kanji too, it’s easy learning later. for the rest of them - have fun fooling around!


Don’t neglect radicals. They are very valuable and have already been laid out for you. Once you’re out of Wanikani, they’ll help you remember the Kanji… And learn new ones (yes, more). You won’t really get how important radicals are until you start running into Kanji that are not covered here, and notice how they compose said Kanji. They just save so much time.
Try learning these kanjis without radicals: 膠、謳、婪、贄、etc… Not decomposed into any parts, only line by line. It sounds crazy, right? (remember you still don’t know all the radicals due to your level)
I believe they’re arguably the most important part of Wanikani.

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I keep forgetting cliff, sick, canopy, yurt, etc

they never stick to my mind no matter what.

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Well, I didn’t use the mnemonics, so my opinion is probably not the most relevant, but I’d say you can ignore them (or force them right) if you want.
As others have pointed out, it is important to be able to separate kanji in blocks, so that you can distinguish things like 縁 and 緑, but you don’t need to use the names/mnemonics provided by WK (at least I did not :sweat_smile:)

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I don’t use the radicals and I cheat them in reviews. I don’t find mnemonics helpful personally.

I do use commonly recognised radicals (as listed in dictionaries) though. These are way more helpful for me (especially when identifying trends in on’yomi, meaning, and etymology).

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