Lessons at a low level: how important is it to read and fully understand the context sentences?

Hi all! So I am scared of the lessons, but I want to clear more of them as soon as I get them. I’m only to level 2 and I only have 42 or so on the queue (was slacking over the holidays and didn’t turn on vacation mode).

At this level, how important is it to spend a lot of time understanding and breaking apart each sentence?

I understand from a few other posts that it’s expected to not be able to completely follow the sentences until level 10, or even 30, or so:

But with that said – how much time should I be spending on these as a Level <5 baby turtle?

Thanks all and happy 2018!!


I suppose that would depend on how much prior experience you have and how much exposure you’re getting, in other words whether you already have or are getting enough context as is. I’m comfortable with almost never reading the context sentences, but I have reasons for that.

Not very.

The purpose of example sentences is to clarify the proper usage of the word (which they often don’t, which is being addressed). That’s not very important in the beginning, since you don’t need to have the nuances of 犬, 食べる and 水 clarified.

They’re good practice anyway because they’re native sentences, but if there are too many words and grammar points you don’t understand, just skip it.

If they fit the +1 principle, it won’t hurt to have a look.


I’ve done a decent amount of Japanese before starting WaniKani, so I can’t say what the best approach would be if you were new to Japanese, but personally I generally only read the context sentences for words I’m unsure about. So where the English word could be interpreted multiple ways, or we don’t exactly have a directly equivalent word. For example there’s a vocab item ‘left and right’, which isn’t a one-word thing in English, so I was a bit unsure how you’d use it. I also use it when I notice that I’ve been given multiple words/kanji with similar or seemingly identical meanings, to help clarify the differences.

But if you were new to Japanese and particularly if self-studying, it might be helpful practice to try to understand the sentences regardless.

This is really helpful; thanks. Based on that article I think, at this stage, the sentences are often over “+1” for me. I’m basing that on this quote:

Why Quantity, Not Quantity…

If you don’t know the meanings of the kanji already, you have to look that up, the readings, and then the meaning/reading of the word. Certainly not +1 (more like +4). That means it is too high above your level for you to naturally comprehend it.

Back to the lessons!


Keep it up!

Start with これは犬です and work your way up.



I’m not gonna say it’s the biggest deal in the world, but even if you read the english translation and vaguely understand what the word is doing in the sentence you will have a better idea of how the word is used.


Ive never worried about understanding the context sentences, I hardly ever read them unless a word is ambiguous and even then if I dont understand it in japanese i just read the english and move on.

Spending time trying to figure out new words and grammar while I’m trying to learn kanji is just too much for me. Id rather focus on the kanji and learn everything else another time

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As others here have already pointed out, it really depends on your level of Japanese ability. If you’re a complete beginner with little to no understanding of grammar, you won’t get much out of the sentences, but if you have a basic grounding, even if there are kanji and vocab used you don’t recognise, you can still gain some insight into how an individual word is used within context.

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I did not read a single example sentence in my entire Wanikani career.


This is all really useful context. I’m sure some get more utility out of reading the sentences than others!

As I’ve progressed I’ve actually run into several sentences for kanji and vocabulary in Level 2 that I can follow, e.g.:

  • ふじ山にのぼるときは、水をわすれないようにしましょう。Don’t forget to bring water when you climb Mt. Fuji.
  • コップ一ぱいの水とあいをください。Give me a cup of water and some love, please.
  • わたしの犬は、白さいがすきだ。My dog likes Chinese cabbage.

My background:

  • 1 semester of Japanese 1 at local CC, using Learn Japanese New College Text (Young and Nakajima-Okano, University of Maryland press) — I really don’t recommend this! Too much dependence on romaji…
  • 4 months of group lessons using Genki 1, Lessons 1-8

So I’m fairly solid on basic, basic, basic grammar. ます forms, simple word order, simple particles に で を へ, directions, adjectival nouns and adjectives plus past tense, and the very beginnings of て form. Still weak on short forms. Not a lot, but enough to follow some of the simpler sentences. I’m going to follow the recommendation and stick with Wanikani for a few more levels (10?) until I dive back into the grammar.

The most frustrating thing I experienced with Genki was the lack of vocabulary. I would try to drill myself with writing sentences but there are only so many verbs and nouns provided in Lessons 1-8. I can already think of more creative examples with these few Wanikani levels. And the example sentences help here too!

you missed a lot of fun then. I don’t bother with them too much, but I read them once and a lot of them are pretty funny, cause they are nonsensical or random.

Of all things on WK I really wish the example sentences would mostly only use vocab up to the current level (as well as the non-avoidable and very important grammar, phrases, and kana-only elements of the language, of course). I can still look at them and try to break them up, sure, but it’s not until you’ve been studying for a while that you’ll even start getting context clues on most of them. They would be so much more accessible to the average user, and more importantly, help reinforce all the vocab much more effectively.

That being said, the sentences are often hilarious, and you couldn’t pull that off as effectively with a more limited vocabulary. I’m also not about to expect them to rewrite 60 levels of sentences, lol. I could write some myself, but as I’m still learning I’m sure I’d just make mistakes and solidify them in my head :confused:

仕方がない, I suppose!

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The context sentences seem to fluctuate between easy - hard / useful - bizarre. If your a relative Newbie, see if the sentence is understandable and use it to consolidate the vocabulary item. Write it down in a notebook and SRS it until it’s part of your everyday speaking ability. If it’s abstract, unusual or irrelevant ignore the sentence as it wont be of use to you at this level :slight_smile:
Good luck!

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When I started WK I pretty much couldn’t understand a single sentence, I think I only started actually reading them at around level 10 or something

Thanks for linking that +1 article ~ new to me and really gives food for thought. It sort of reflects what I do with the sentences so far ~ I just scan them to find the easiest most currently accessible one. I glean what I can and move on. :sunny:

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