KaniWani and synonyms

I get a lot of reviews wrong on KaniWani because the english words cover multiple japanese words. The reviews in WaniKani aren’t an issue since the kanji are different. There are multiple correct answers due to synonyms for WK reviews.

Here is one set that I get wrong in KW.
KW shows: truth, fact, reality
KW shows: reality, truth
KW shows: truth, reality

Answers: 事実(じじつ) 本当(ほんとう) 実(じつ)

I try to recognize the unique words for each review, but sometimes there are 3 or more shared words making it difficult to remember every possible meaning for every word. All the words for lifetime, time periods, and girl are like this too.

For those of you who use KaniWani in addition to WaniKani, how do you deal with the synonyms?

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I don’t use KW much these days, but back then I just added KW synonyms, if it was appropriate, meaning that entering one Japanese word would be accepted for another Japanese word. If you wanted to get tricksy, you could add things like “not 事実” here on WK as well. IIRC, your added synonyms here show up over there too.

in principle the first word listed is the primary meaning and the synonyms are there for either nuance or leeway. So if you can remember one as truth and the other as reality… but that doesn’t work for me at all; memorizing the specific order of synonyms is too niche in my judgement.

my process is:

  • go on jisho and look for unlisted-by-WK synonyms which distinguish the words’ nuance
  • if no such thing exists, add a WK synonym like “truth (event kanji)”, so i’m not necessarliy memorizing the synonyms, but at least i’m seeing them at the SRS intervals (and i find that usually by enlighten/burn reviews, i know them by synonym anyway)
  • if learning the different sets of synonyms is too 面倒くさい, and i’d be comfortable mixing these two up in conversation and having a native look at me funny but get my point, but still want to look at the difference every now and again, then i don’t bother adding synonyms but tell myself i’m allowed to use backspace whenever i conflate those two specific words
  • if the words truly mean the same in any reasonable english translation but i can distinguish which word i’d want to pick based on my sense for japanese aesthetics, for example with バカバカしい and バカらしい, only then do i go and use the KW synonym button to merge the two flashcards.

ultimately with words like 本当 and 事実 (and 現実 and 真実) they have different nuance which will be much easier to grasp through hearing examples in native material than looking at flashcard synonyms.

my overall rule of thumb for KW is to be as lenient as i need to such that i don’t feel tempted to quit because it’s too much of a chore, but not any more lenient than necessary. even if i’m cheating all the synonyms with backspace, it’s still better than nothing for practicing recall of all the other words.

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just wait until you get to the lamentable mourning words.

I usually don’t care too much about getting synonyms wrong on KW, but if there are 5+ words with basically the same meaning (different KW “word-order”) it’s a little annoying. but hey, since KW doesnt influence your leveling up here, just take it as a lesson in endurance. oh my, another one. thrifty.


There’s a script that lets you modify the questions, and you can use that to add cues that force you to ignore the synonyms:

So for the question “truth, fact, reality” – you can add “(not: 本当、実)” to the question.
or, if you didn’t want to give away the 実 character, add "(two kanji, not 本当)

Or even better, add more to the question that gives the nuance of the definition of that particular word.

I’ve used this technique in Anki and Skritter as well and it’s solved the synonym problem for me. It’s a little extra work to add them in, but the act of doing it helps solidify a bit, so it’s not a waste of time. It’s a little better than adding answer synonyms, because it forces you to learn all the words rather than one correct answer that works for several questions.

note: the stuff you add using this script only works locally on that one device, which is annoying but better than nothing.

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