Onyomi/Kunyomi Errors

It’s because the kunyomi reading for a kanji is still correct: its a possible reading, just not the one wanikani wants. However vocab only has one reading (with exceptions) and you have to answer with that.
The kanji 行 in various contexts can be read as い or こう
But the word 行く = いく but not こうく

Edit: like how “ch” can be pronounced as “ch” or “sh”, but Chicago can’t be pronounced “chick-ago”


Yeah, as @kitsunensei said, there is only one correct reading for a vocab word. There might be multiple ways to pronounce a, y, etc in English, but there is only one way to say “Apple”, it’s not “aypple”, for example. When you think of the parity in English, it makes sense.


Because it is wrong. こう, for example, is not a valid reading for the word 口.

Because it’s not wrong and the prompt isn’t saying you are wrong. This seems to be the source of your confusion. Providing a kun-yomi when it expects on-yomi is not a wrong answer. It’s correct but just not the expected answer.


I think the logic behind it is sound, but I know that myself and others have problems quickly noticing which color background we’re looking at when we’re trying quickly do reviews. It’s probably too late to modify much but I really do wish that complete opposite colors were used (like green and red, purple and yellow, blue and orange) instead of two colors that are at least half red.


I imagine some people would still say, “I wasn’t looking at the background, since I was going fast between review items.” or something.

Also, it being completely different could be a little disorienting.


I think I didn’t make myself very clear as evidenced by the replies. I would never expect it to give me a second chance if I wrote こうく for 行く (in fact, the reading is obvious and I’d never “accidentally” type the wrong thing there).

I’m only referring to the cases where it has an isolated kanji symbol all by itself. People want to make comparisons to English, but in reality, there is absolutely nothing like this in English to make an accurate comparison.

Maybe here’s one to clarify. I’ve never typed い for 生, but I’m curious if it treats that as “a possible reading.” As far as I’m aware, that’s never correct for the symbol on its own.

This has less to do with “correctness” than it does with “reasonableness given context.” It’s reasonable for someone to be shown 口 and their first reaction is こう, yet we wouldn’t get another chance. It’s unreasonable for someone to be shown 生 and they write い, yet that’s given another chance.

In fact, it’s always reasonable to give the onyomi when shown an isolated symbol, which is why I initially said I felt the leniency should be in the other direction. I do get what people are saying, though.

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Maybe I’m misunderstanding here, but since many single-kanji words use the kun reading (hence your worries), I’d say it’s not always reasonable. Since it means you’ll pronounce the word wrong…

Maybe this analogy with single-letter English words is helpful?


On wanikani, the symbol on it’s own can be one of two things: the kanji (essentially a building block or letter, shown in pink on the site) or as a word (can be used by itself in a sentence, shown in purple). Both onyomi and kunyomi would be a correct answer for the reading on a kanji, although WK specifically wants onyomi (most of the time; sometimes they only teach you the kunyomi). For a word made up of a single kanji, it will use the kunyomi (with some exceptions, but thats the general rule of thumb).

For example, 力 (power)

  • The kanji can be read as りょく (one of the onyomi) or ちから (the kunyomi)
    Eg: 体力 たいりょく - here the kanji is being used to make up the meaning of the word (body + strength)
  • The word 力 itself (made up of the kanji 力 in isolation) is read as the kunyomi: ちから (and not any of the onyomi)
    Eg: ひと ちから (a person’s power)

TL;DR: in an ideal world the pink/kanji questions would accept either reading (on’ or kun’yomi) or require that you type both. But the vocab words made up of a single kanji only have one answer - this answer is usually the kunyomi (eg: 人=ひと), but there are a few words that use the onyomi (eg: 本=ほん)

The purple vocab reviews are words, though. The word for 口 is くち. こう can be a lot of various words, but if you see 口 all by itself in a sentence, its reading is くち.

To say こう should be an acceptable answer here would be like saying “I’m going to get a glass of hydro” is an acceptable alternative to saying “water” in English.


It doesn’t really annoy me since I would like to learn all facets of the language not just the meanings of kanji. So, I also feel like it has a lot to do with what you want to get out of language learning in general. If you ONLY want to know what kanji mean then it may never matter. For me specifically, I would like to learn to speak Japanese, listen to Japanese being spoken and understand what someone is saying or say something correctly myself (along with reading and writing). If I am staying alone and reading a book then sure I would definitely be able to understand what something means by just seeing it whether I am pronouncing it in my head correctly or not right?

But if I was speaking to someone in Japanese and said the Chinese reading of a kanji when there is no vocabulary word to correspond to said reading then they would have no idea what I was talking about. Kanji and vocabulary (to me) are not interchangeable things, where one would be accepted for the other. There are multiple readings for kanji, and they are taught through wanikani, but there aren’t multiple readings for vocabulary words (with exceptions as always) taught to you so you are expected to know the reading for that word.

A simple kanji like the person kanji 人 has readings of じん、にん、ひと。So if you were speaking to someone and said person you would only say ひと right? So it would definitely be accepted as a reading for the kanji, but as an actual word you wouldn’t use the other readings so I don’t understand why it should accept them. Then you get into more difficult examples like adult 大人. If you base both of those only on those foundations would you try to remember it as big and person separately? Something like たいじん、だいにん、たいひと? None of those would make sense because adult is おとな。So since it is a word you would be expected to know it that way.

So I don’t even consider it as something that should be going both ways because to me it doesn’t make sense. Maybe it is just something that won’t make sense…haha! Kanji aren’t words themselves, they are like building blocks. Kanji is not an alphabet in that sense, the letters in English don’t represent ideas. They literally mean nothing. You have to combine them so it is different in that way. Kanji is an alphabet of ideas not sounds like hiragana and katakana, but it is still an alphabet (writing system).

The kanji make up the words, they aren’t the words, right? I don’t know, now I am confusing myself…lol!

TL:DR It doesn’t annoy me, if it asks you for a kanji reading, there are multiple of them, so by answering a vocab reading it is still correct (maybe not what it is looking for, but it isn’t wrong). But for vocab there is only one. So why should it let you have another chance if it is wrong? The other chance you get is when is comes back around and hopefully you will get it right.

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No, you were quite clear. That’s why when I responded I used a single kanji word as my counterexample for why what you are asking for is incorrect.

Yes, and typing in the reading こう for the single kanji word 口 is 100% wrong. Hence why you get marked wrong for that answer. The on-yomi is not a correct reading for that word. にん and じん are also incorrect readings for the word 人. The correct reading is ひと. You can object all you want, but that won’t change the facts of the situation.

Not if it’s the single kanji word 生 in the context of saying “raw/fresh”. Only なま is a reading that will be accepted because い is incorrect.

Yes, and you shouldn’t be given another chance for typing こう for the word 口 because it’s an incorrect reading. Giving you another chance simply reinforces an incorrect reading. Being marked wrong reinforces that you should be using another reading.

Again to quote what I said above when it comes to kanji readings when they are not in the context of a single-kanji word:


Hmm…I think you missed the part where I said that I 100% understand what people are saying. You didn’t need to repeat it.

You don’t understand what I’m saying, because you keep insisting that it would be reinforcing an incorrect reading. I’m not saying that you should get another chance because it’s “correct” (it obviously isn’t). The problem is that you can know the correct answer and just type the wrong one.

We’re not in the real world here. It’s a flash card system that shows you 口 and sometimes it wants こう and sometimes it wants くち. And even if you know both and understand which is used when, you can still just type the wrong one, because a background color I rarely pay attention to was different.

I don’t see what’s wrong with the screen shaking and it saying: woops, you thought we were looking for the kanji reading, but we’re looking for the vocabulary reading.

Actually, now that I’ve written this, I understand the confusion. And I don’t think it’s what anyone on here has realized yet.

When it asks for “kanji reading,” you all interpret that as exactly what it says: a reading of the kanji. This whole time, I’ve assumed they just renamed “onyomi” to “kanji reading” to be more friendly to new people (and this is reinforced by only accepting the onyomi to be marked correct).

I also assumed this because you should know the onyomi so that you can use it in compound words that need it.

If this were the case (which I’m seeing that it’s not), then typing a reading other than the onyomi is wrong, and by letting you have another chance, it’s reinforcing an incorrect answer to that flashcard.

This is the asymmetry I was referring to.

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I’m not saying it’s correct in real life. I’m saying that in the context of a flashcard system that shows you 口 and sometimes wants you to type こう and sometimes wants you to type くち, it’s perfectly reasonable to let you have another chance if you thought you were on the other type of card.

Yeah it happens.

So then just accept you got it wrong and move on? Why should WK be changed from correctly marking your answer as wrong?

Why should it? If you’re wrong you should be marked wrong.

Well then it seems you need to change your assumption because that’s not what it means. For example, 川 asks for かわ even as kanji.

But it’s not. Kun-yomi are not wrong readings. That’s why they are not marked wrong and you are asked to give the different reading instead.

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You’ll get used to the color scheme and stop making that mistake, though.
If you’re really bothered by it, you can get an undo userscript.

He was asking for it shake. I still think shaking would give the impression that the reading was “acceptable but not the one we wanted right now.” He’s saying he didn’t see the kanji shaking in that light, but now understands that it’s intended to mean that.

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By kanji reading, they mean the first reading they taught you. In most cases its the onyomi, but if a kanji’s onyomi is hardly ever used/doesn’t exist, they’ll go straight to the kunyomi (eg: 竹)

It gets a little tedious to remember which reading you learned first after you get a good grip of the kanji’s vocab, but in most cases that would be the onyomi

Do the bars say different things also or only the color changes? I didn’t even think about it until right now, where it asks for Meaning or Reading in the black and white bar area? Does it also say either Vocabulary Reading or Kanji Reading and Vocabulary Meaning and Kanji Meaning?

I need to pay more attention to things, I am wondering what triggers my brain to answer with what I do because I feel like I am on autopilot a lot of the time when answering stuff…lol!