Radicals and kanji hardship

hi there, from what i got radicals arnt pronuncable as a sound but they do have an official name that refer to them.
what is quite hard for me to understand are radicals that are also Kanji on there own( correct me if im mistaken)
such as 一(I-chi) which is a radical but also has a pronunciation as a Kanji
so if there is a sentence or word that use the sound of “ichi” do u use “一” in the sentence ? or “いち”
is “一” count as a kanji and radical at the same time?
i dont get the radical&kenji relationship
are kanji are only used as words? or sounds as well ?

another thing is 大 which is big and the reading is だい “DAI”
but as i searched for the kanji of big i saw 大きい Ōkī
so is the pronunciation is which one ?
and if its Ōkī then what is the solo pronunciation sound of 大?
im quite lost to be honest, hope someone can light it up for me.


The cake is a lie.


The radicals are simply puzzle pieces for real kanji.
Sometimes the puzzle only needs one single piece :sweat_smile:


For the most part the full kanji radicals do make the learning process easier, but I don’t yet understand why the Kanji for hometown is a WK radical for village???

Also this thread should be enlightening.

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I would recommend reading through the FAQ. It answers a lot of these basic questions.


@ MafuyuUwU, hello. The radicals (in blue) are just names for the shapes in the kanji. (They’re not necessarily how Japanese people would describe them. But they’re useful WK ways of us remembering the shapes and then recognising them in future. And that’s why they don’t have a sound.).

So yes a straight line is just a shape you have to remember (as the radical ‘ground’). But it coincidentally happens to be the shape of an entire kanji too (which means ‘one’, and has the sound ‘ichi’). Not all the radicals are entire kanji, as you will discover. The kanji are usually made up of several radicals (and WK uses the sometimes silly names of those radicals to make up a story, a mnemonic, so you will remember the meaning of those complicated kanji).

The kanji (in pink) represent concepts (that might not map onto a single English word. But they get given a single English word, generally, in WK.) So 大 is ‘big’ as you say.

Can I use 水 as an example instead as I think it’ll make it clearer to you?

When you learn the sound for the pink kanji 水 it’s like learning ‘aqua’ or ‘hydro’ in English. That is, it means ‘water’, but only in combination with other kanji to make a whole word like aquarium or hydroelectric.

When you learn the purple vocabulary version of 水, that’s like learning the actual word ‘water’ because it can stand on its own.

(Sometimes, the kanji sound and the vocabulary sound might be the same. But often they’re different. Just take it as it comes… it does get a bit easier after a while).

I hope that’s some use. (I’m sure it’s vastly simplified and probably not quite the truth, but it’s possibly helpful to start with). Is that clearer?


If we look at いち specifically, when it means the number ‘one’, you would see it written as ‘一’ or as ‘1’, or as ‘壱’ (but this last one you only see on banknotes or something, so it can’t be frauded into bigger numbers’. But there are other words that sound like いち but have a different meaning, like 位置いち (position) or 市場いちば(market place). Those will be written with different kanji, as you can see.

This kanji, 里, has both of those meanings, so it’s not that strange to me. Go ahead and give the radical the synonym hometown if you want them to be completely identical. Strictly speaking, if your hometown was Tokyo, or some other big city, I’m not sure it would be appropriate to use 里. To me, village captures the primary meaning most accurately.


Hi. For some reason it takes me a long time to do it. Im still on Level 1 and its Day 3. They make me do so many reviews. It might take me 10 years to finish wanikani

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