Noun vocab meanings that don't use articles

I just had 折り目 marked wrong because the WaniKani meaning is “fold” and I include an article in my answer, “a fold.” I’m pretty certain my answer should be accepted since folds are definitely countable in English and wondered whether anyone had encountered any other nouns that do this so I can keep an eye out for them.

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I’m pretty sure this is just a factor of the length of the answer. For instance, I just tried “a painkiller” for 鎮痛剤, and “a painkiller” gets accepted as “a little bit off” because “painkiller” is fairly long, and when the system does its “fuzzy spell check” it deems it to be close enough.

But because of the way the fuzzy spell checking works, the shorter the answer is, the less forgiving it’s going to be for the same number of characters off the answer. At a certain point, 2 characters “wrong” is going to be more than “a little off” in the formula, and it gets marked wrong instead of accepted.

You can add articles to things if you want to, as user synonyms (so you would add “a fold” to the 折り目 page). Usually WaniKani only does so when not having the article sounds a little strange. But I don’t think they’re super consistent with that.


Ah okay. I thought it might be something to do with that but wasn’t too sure about how the spell check system worked. If this is the case what’s your advice when reviewing a short noun which may or may not have an article? It would seem to me that if it’s the case that you answer without the article when it is needed it would still be two characters off and get marked wrong and if you use the article and it’s unnecessary you have the same situation. In that case which do you think is better to use? Assuming you haven’t added the other one as a synonyms for every short noun.

Yep that’s exactly what I did :sweat_smile:

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I’m not really sure there are any that have articles in the main meaning which don’t include the plain noun as a synonym.*(see my edit)

Like, looking at 心配 (a worry), the version without an article is also a synonym by default. I suppose with something like a proper noun, that might not be the case, but nothing is coming to mind.

I personally usually lean toward not using articles generally.

And there’s always scripts for undoing answers if you feel you need to go that route in the end.

EDIT: Checking more and found 一瞬 has “an instant” but not “instant” as a meaning… probably again, as I alluded to before, it would be kind of strange without it. In this case, it would almost imply the wrong part of speech if you took “an” away. So sometimes there is no “article-free” synonym by default.


Thanks for the help testing everything out. It’s not a huge issue so I can’t imagine it causing problems often. But it’s something to keep in mind when I’m learning
new vocabulary from here on out.

Actually I’m trying to avoid using scripts so I’m not tempted to abuse them :sweat_smile: Plus I move around a lot between schools so I’m rarely working on the same device (which I’m guessing could be difficult on my work computers in the schools).

Just gonna throw in a suggestion. Wanikani uses Levenshtein distance. Basically, paraphrasing, it’ll do a bunch of calculations to see how many character transformations (character additions, alternations, deletions, etc.) you’d need on your answer to get to the correct answer. If it’s at or less than a certain level of leeway, it’s considered correct. Leeway is based on the length of the correct answer.

Adding a space that shouldn’t be there is counted as a required alteration. Therefore “a fold” is two alternations off from the correct answer, not one, and is thus marked wrong.

Like you said, WK is pretty inconsistent. If you really wanna maximize the chance of you getting it right, just don’t add the space. “afold” is acceptable regardless of whether the answer is “a fold” or “fold”. With something like “an instant”, “aninstant” is probably acceptable regardless of whether it’s “instant” or “an instant”.

Just some thoughts. I feel kind of stupid for taking three paragraphs to say, “Just don’t add a space,” but w/e.


No, I appreciate the in depth explanation. Thanks for the insight and the simple workaround. It never even occurred to me to try it without the space to reduce the error to one character either way.


I would like to point out that 折り目 isn’t “a fold”, as it could just as well be “folds” or “the fold” depending on context.

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