Not doing well :(

I’m a beginner and now that I’ve unlocked some vocabulary, I’m doing poorly. :frowning:

Is it big? Or is it size? Considerable? Entrance, to enter, or insert? And why does the same kanji pronounce differently???

Is this just me, or does this happen to everyone?

I got the wind knocked out of me first time around.

You’ll get used to it.

Have you studied Japanese before now? This was my introduction to the language, so all the new words threw me off for a while.


Some, but not a lot. Spoken words and hiragana mostly

Same boat as me then brotherman.

Keep at it, eventually you’ll remeber the differences.

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This sort of confusion happens, yes. Don’t worry about it and just let WaniKani do its thing…

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I started with just some spoken and hiragana too, I got better once I just started to relax and trust the magic of spaced repetition and mnemonics.


There are probably reasons kanji pronounce differently as time and traditions have altered the language (kunyomi, onyomi, etc.). Just remember, just like they practice and practice it growing up, we learned English the hard way, too: over years. It’s how we got the point so we can say, “English is difficult. It can be understood through tough, thorough, thought, though.” So, expect years of practice :wink:

Also, it will be hard to learn if you aren’t continually using it in everyday life, or studying grammar. Ideally, you are studying verbs, conjugations, and usages with hiragana for a good time when kanji + furigana begin to seep its way into the sentences, starting with things like 私(わたし)so you can see both at the same time. It’s important if you want to learn the language, to not solely rely on kanji. Books and a native Japanese conversation partner will work wonders.

Good luck! And keep at it. 頑張って!

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Up until level 27 kicked my ass royally, level 2 was my slowest level. At first, you need to learn how to learn. Try to visualize better.

You should listen to this:

This is very much like the techniques used in Wanikani, but probably put to an even better description of how to do it right… I wished I had listened to this before starting here.

Actually, John’s whole podcast is pretty good, but this particular episode was excellent!

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Keep at it. I think it definitely gets easier as you progress. Things will start to make more sense the further you level. Keep plugging away and try not to get upset if you get stuff wrong. Slow and steady wins the race.

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The size/big etc. thing made me feel like an utter idiot too. Don’t worry. It’ll eventually sear itself into your brain. Until you take a vacation. Then it’ll start all over again. But it is worth it!

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Are you taking lessons outside of kanji practice at the same time? That will clear up vocabulary differences like big/size immensely. You’ll save yourself a lot of time if you’re familiar with what types of word endings indicate adjectives (い), nouns (replacing the い in い-adjectives with さ) and adverbs (replacing the い in い-adjectives with く). Later on you’ll also encounter infinitive verbs that are made into noun forms by changing their final “u” character into “i” (ex. 泳ぐ (to swim) into 泳ぎ (swimming, as a noun)). Having some background in grammar will also help identify which verbs are transative/intransative, when you get to them (usually down to whether the middle syllable takes an “e” or an “a” sound, respectively).

While you can start off on Wanikani without some foundation in Japanese grammar, know that it’s going to make picking up vocabularly a little harder. It sounds like the issues you’re having are pattern-based, in which case being familiar with other aspects of the language is going to help much more than tackling the vocabulary through rote memorization.

If you’re taking lessons at the same time, know that it’ll all dovetail eventually, and just keep at it. Pretty soon you’ll be making connections left and right.

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So the kanji only represent a concept, but that concept can be applied in many different words. If you pay close attention to the examples and parts of speech you’ll notice that all of those words have a different nuance to them. Of course a lot of these won’t make sense without more practice and grammar studies, such as transitive (to insert) and intransitive verbs (to enter) which are largely ignored in English.

You can get a basic overview and history by reading this article from the overlor- I mean, beloved Koichi. There are other reasons for weird readings, such as exceptions under the category of “ateji” words. Once you get used to it and learn more the readings will start to make more sense and it actually gets easier to guess how to read unknown words (woohoo!).

This pretty much happens to everyone, especially beginners. Don’t worry too much and keep learning at a pace you’ll find comfortable. Sometimes it also helps to just “accept” something by memorizing and let the concepts sink in over time. Otherwise, a lot of these concepts and questions should be addressed in most beginner textbooks for Japanese. Best of luck!


it happens, I had some issues with it as well, it will get easier and harder. I swear I will never get the hang of when to rendaku and when to not. it is and shall remain,the bane of my learning


Thank you everyone. Sounds like I need to study my grammar to understand why it’s so different.


Some tips that help with my remembering WaniKani

  1. Do EN->JP. I do on Anki. Easier alternative is to do on KaniWani. I do it even before leveling up.
  2. Focus on spoken Japanese before considering the written language. If you want grammar, had better ignore Kanji at first.
  3. Look up every word in the dictionary
  4. Practice writing can help with similar Kanji. I also do on Anki (AnkiDroid).
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Look at the colour of the background: it if is pink the pronunciation is derived from Chinese. It is called “on” reading. You will be using it when you it is combined with Hiragana or other kanji. If the background is purple is is Japanese vocabulary (“kun” reading). Don’t be afraid of being wrong, just patiently do them again and again and you will realize that you are starting to memorize them. Good luck!

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That’s not always true. Lots of kanji (pink background) have the on reading taught on WK, but many also have the kunyomi taught. Purple, vocab, are just whatever the pronunciation for that word happens to be, whether it’s on, kun, on-on, kun-kun, on-kun, kun-on, etc.

It happens to a lot of us… I mixed up a lot of the BIG words myself.

I’m still mixing up the different ways to say “SOON” and “NEIGHBOURHOOD/NEARBY”… There are too many. 近所 is on my wall of shame and apparently I’ve done over 40 reviews of the item. I still haven’t burned it. So, you’re definitely not alone.

Just trust that the SRS will take care of most of them. The ones that stick around too long… well… maybe those need a wee bit extra studying… (I’m lookin’ at you, 近所!) but mostly, you’ll do just fine.


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To be fair, we do have transitive and intransitive verbs in English, but they tend to be more flexible and don’t often share stems the way they do in other languages, including Japanese. Or we have to create them through supporting verbs. (Ex. 開ける vs. 開く in Japanese, whereas we don’t have two separate verbs for “to open (something else)” and “to be open” in English.)

But this just gets back to the point about having at least some familiarity with the grammar and language outside of Wanikani. If you’re familiar with the patterns of transitive vs. intransitive verbs, sorting through vocabulary like 開ける and 開く is going to be a no-brainer, whereas I can imagine it being somewhat nightmarish coming in cold. Ditto 大きい、大きさ and 大きく, and every other instance of Wanikani quizzing you simultaneously on adjective, noun and adverb forms.


I always get a laugh out of thinking of 大きく as “bigly” given recent events.