Memorizing Kanji

Hello, everyone!

Hope all is well. I’ve been having a hard time trying to memorize words that are similar like 下がる and 下げる for example. Just the English meaning. I’ve tried focusing on a set of terms that are similar and just practice with them, but I still get them mixed up. Can anyone give advice on how to remember the correct readings for a set of words that are similar?


Hi, these are really hard ones to remember. You just have to persist and find something that will trigger the difference in your brain!
I’m still trying to burn these myself.
Good luck😀

1 Like

For these verbs, I’ve noticed that the ones with ける/げる tend to be transitive (aka have an object, like “to raise something”) and the ones with かる/がる — intransitive (like “to rise”). I’m only level 9 tho, so it might very well change in the future, but it helped me a lot so far :slight_smile:


You have to kind of find your own way of remembering. In my case, there’s no"get" in 下げる (to lower) because the “げt” is already in the word.

1 Like

Those 2 were problematic. I basically did a third language translation (from Japanese to English then to Spanish) and also always arranged them like this in my head:

  1. Both “GA-GE” (が,げ)sounds with the ABOVE (上) kanji come first, and I memorized them in that order, “to rise my fever”,“to raise my hands” (subir la fiebre, alzar las manos)

  2. Likewise for the BELOW (下) kanji, “to drop the bomb”, “to lower the tree”

It was the first time I had to create custom rules. I had to create SEVERAL others for sun-moon readings and beyond.

1 Like

Have you tried the self study script? That has been working well for me so far. You can self study words that failed in their last review, leeches, etc. I keep doing the self study quizzes until I get 6-7 quizzes with 100% accuracy in a row. I think it’s a nice brute force way of drilling pretty much any word/kanji into my brain, at least up to this point.

Find out how to use them in context and then start doing it. Things will resolve themselves once you get a feeling for their practical use.


I learnt け by seeing it as looking like a ‘keg’ of beer. So 上げる and 下げる are to raise and to lower (transitive) because with something as valuable as a keg of beer, you are going to want to be in control of the process.

Even though I don’t drink beer, this seems to work for me :wink:

I have a few of these intransitive vs transitive verbs lingering in my review piles - as mentioned above, coming in to contact with them ‘in the wild’, and putting to use will cement them !


1 Like

These two links helped me with some general rules and ideas to tell the transitive / intransitive versions of verbs apart:

warning: cure-dolly’s youtube videos uses synthesized voice that some people find weird and/or creepy. My suggestion is to turn on closed captions and mute it if you find it bothers you


When you have a pair of verbs like 下がる and 下げる, the one that ends in the あ sound will be intransitive, and the one that ends in the え sound will be transitive.

Apply that to these verbs and you get 下がる = intransitive and 下げる = transitive. Then you can use that to determine their meanings. :slight_smile:


Ah, the joy of transitive/intransitive pairs. Hopefully this post is less ramble-y than it felt to write.

(I wrote most of this before I saw @SleepyOne’s way more concise comment so screw it I’m posting it anyway)

So the article posted above mentions and dismisses patterns for remembering transitive/intransitive pairs, but it only actually “debunks” half of them? Which are not the ones I’m about to share and have served me well… So anyway, one of the things that helps best is not just a single mnemonic, but recognizing a general pattern.

If you’re aware that ある is (on of) the Japanese verb for “to be” or “to exist”, and you’re vaguely aware of the concept of verb transitivity, then this becomes easy.

上がる is to rise. The thing is rising. It is not raising something else up. The subject itself is rising. It is both the subject and the object. The action is self-contained. It’s intransitive. And you know what the simplest intransitive verb of all is? ある. And that rhymes with あがる. And no that’s not a coincidence.

From there you can infer that 上げる must be the transitive version, so that would be to raise (which you do to something else).

Similarly, if you have a pair of verbs and one ends in す, it’s transitive. You can remember this because that す ostensibly comes from する which is “to do.” Which is about the simplest way to describe affecting another object. You “do” something to it.

Granted if you see an える verb in isolation, there’s not too much of a general rule for whether it’s transitive/intransitive, especially when inflections come into play (though that’s not usually an issue on WaniKani). So せる and める verbs might “always” be transitive, but that’s only if they’re part of a root pair, instead of being the potential forms of some intransitive verb.


Thanks for sharing!

Okay, thanks for the tip!

1 Like

Thank you! Reading this definitely helped me.

1 Like


No, I haven’t! How do I do it?

Okay, thank you!

Take a look at this post - [Userscript] Self-Study Quiz
It explains in detail how to use it.

Essentially, if you notice that you are failing to identify a specific word again and again (these words are “leeches”) you can use this script to study those leeches in particular. Or if you just want to study the words which failed their last review, you can do that too. There are a ton of options besides these two.

For this case, an alt 下がる from “to get lower” is “to fall”, so I just remember it as both having “a” in them. Leaving “to lower” being for the other one.

This is a great tip, thank you!

1 Like