Pronunciation confusion

How do you know which pronunciation waniKani wants? I keep putting in one way, and I get the question wrong, then later when it asks again I put in the other way, and it now wants it the original way. I get all the meanings right but knowing which one they want it pronounced as seems to just stop me.

Welcome to the site.

Kanji items, which are pink, technically allow any of the possible readings. But only one is taught in the lesson, so if you answer with a different one it will shake and ask you for the one that was taught. When there are many readings, this prevents people from advancing only by answering with obscure readings.

Vocab items, which are purple, usually only have one possible reading, though there are exceptions. If you answer with a different reading, even if it’s a reading for that kanji when it appears in other words, it will be considered incorrect.


So how do you remember which vocab is for kanji and which is for the vocab? They are the same in all other respects except for the color, at least for these low levels.

On’yomi kanji are the building blocks - they are not vocab. :slight_smile:

Only やま is the actual word “mountain.” If you try to say the word mountain without context, no native speaker will guess that’s what you’re saying if you use just the on’yomi.

Jukugo words are words usually comprised of several on’yomi together. The reason WK teaches you on’yomi for kanji is so that you have a decent chance to read and even understand jukugo you’ve never seen before.

Rather than sitting you down and teaching you every JP vocab ever, they give you the tools to make an educated guess on many jukugo, or at the minimum really speed up the act of looking up words, because you know how the different kanji compounds are read, even on unfamiliar words.

I really struggled to wrap my head around it at first, but if you start by just going by the colours of the background, it’ll really all fall into place


Think of kanji like letters of the alphabet (albeit a very, very big alphabet) used to spell words. Some kanji are also words (like a or I for example), but not all. The main difference being that the readings usually differ between what WaniKani teaches you for each, but that’s just Japanese for you. The colors aren’t the actual difference, it’s just how they distinguish the difference between a “letter” and word without providing further context.

As you go along, however, you may start to get a feel for which reading they’ve taught you for a kanji/vocab (onyomi or kunyomi) and the rules of when each is used. But for now, just focus on the color telling you which it’s asking for and you’ll get the hang of it in no time!


You’re jumbling the terminology a bit, but I think you mean “how do you remember which is the reading for the vocab?”

It’s not easy, but over time you’ll get used to differentiating between “words” and readings that are just smaller parts of bigger words.

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