Reading Words

I’m currently in level 1 of wanikani- and I know all of my katakana and hiragana and all of the kanji that I have been taught. but when reading words or sentences, I don’t understand 90% of the time how the words going to sound or where it ends within the sentence. Any tips for learning how to read well? I know all of the sounds its just when putting them together it can largely confuse me-- or is this just something that comes with more time I spend.


Yes, practice makes perfect.

Have a look at the Graded Readers and Parallel Texts "Book Club" and the Absolute Beginner Book Club for easy material to get started and for great support from others.


thank you! Ill give that a look when I finish my reviews :stuck_out_tongue: i try to read everything I get but right now i’m just getting confused mostly lol.

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As @Rowena says, this takes practice, but also improves with vocabulary and grammar knowledge. Learning where words start and end basically comes down to recognising things like particles and verb conjugations, and then guessing the rest based on words you know.

As far as not knowing how the word is going to sound, you should be able to “chant” the text with no inflection just from the hiragana. Actually “hearing” it in a more natural way takes lots of listening practice though.


For me right now its mostly just the: not knowing where words end part, but I was just making sure I wasn’t making a big mistake and that I should be able to read after i have my hiragana and katakana knowledge on level 1.

Early on, it is so hard to figure out where one word ends and another begins, and what is particle and what isn’t, and so on. As everyone said, the best path is just to learn more vocabulary and grammar, and after a while you mostly won’t struggle at all. Suddenly it is easy to see even if you don’t know the words in the sentence. I can’t tell you exactly when it happened for me, but it just did after a while.


When you’re starting out resources that have spaces between words help a lot. I wish it was standard to use them…
I don’t personally know of many, but the TangoRisto app is good for that. I’m sure you’ll find examples if you search/ask on the forums.

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Let me recommend to you the Japanese Graded Readers app by White Rabbit Press

They don’t have many stories, but the few they have are amazing! You can choose how to display the text with a simple touch on any page, Furigana or no furigana (just click to toggle if you are trying without and want to “check if you were right”) Click a button to have it read to you (one page at a time), or set it to autoplay when changing page, three sizes if you need them bigger for easier recognition.

If I’m not mistaken there is one free story too. If not, you pay per story, Just get the first one and read it till you feel ready for the next. They cost about a cup of coffee each :wink:
It’s a great way to start, at a near to nothing price, instantaneous and covers all you need for a very beginner =)

My settings: (if I hold on the page I get furigana displayed while holding)

Optional big with furigana, also the menu to change text and play sound is just by a touch while on any page =)

Honestly the only negative I can say is they promised us they where adding more stories about a year ago, but they haven’t come! :rofl:
We gave them so much feedback to work on instead (like the optional furigana was a wanikani user request which they implemented! <3 )


Pretty much. :slight_smile: I’ve been doing WK for over a year and there are still Kanji I don’t recognize when it’s in a sentence, but I find that I get better at recognition the more I read.

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I second this! If you can get your hands on some children’s picture books, that might be helpful! Here’s an example:

The thing is, between kanji, hiragana, katakana and particles, the spaces aren’t necessary. Japanese will often actively chose to put a word in hiragana, for example, to split it from the kanji and provide a natural break between words.

But by the time you have basic grammar down, this should not be much of an issue anymore!

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thespacesarentnecessaryinenglisheitherbutheymakeseverythingwayeasier :slight_smile:

I think the spaces make it far easier to recognise the grammar and vocab in a dense wall of text. This is especially the case when you’re just starting out reading, and you haven’t had practice parsing actual text yet. Besides, there are many grammatically ambiguous situations, where you just need to have a feel for how something is likely to be expressed.

Once you can read comfortably with spaces, it’s easy to transition to reading without (any English speaker can probably read my first sentence with only a little trouble, despite not having much if any practice at English without spaces).

Edit: If anything, it’s worth it just because it looks less intimidating!

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Thirding this! I have been able to find quite a lot of japanese kids books available on ebay here in the UK too. I found them really helpful in preparing for JLPT N5, because the exam only uses a small number of kanji, and I was struggling to recognise a lot of familiar words when they were written in hiragana only, without the visual cues of the kanji.

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I find reading books for really little kids with no kanji and spaces between words to go slower than if the same text was written with kanji and no spaces. I guess part of it is just not being used to that style of presentation.


I absolutely agree. I think that’ll happen once you already know too many kanji, basically.
For the OP who seems to be just starting out though, it would probably work better.

I’m with you on that, but I was mostly thinking about kanji+spaces to be honest. When it’s an option it’s great.

so at first it can be more difficult? as I’m only being given mostly hiragana on its own without kanji. but as I learn more kanji it’ll become easier for me?

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Pretty much.

Japanese has a lot of homophones, so with purely hiragana it can be quite difficult to tell which word something represents. If it’s written without spaces, it becomes even harder because you also have to guess where the word starts and ends.

It’s a lot less ambiguous with kanji, as you have a lot more information on meaning and word boundaries. It very quickly becomes easier to read text that uses kanji than hiragana, even if you know very few kanji. You do end up spending a lot of time looking up stuff up though.


Just assume that word begins with a kanji and ends with kana. Thus, new kanji after kana serves as a space instead. (This is not always true, but often enough). Also, spaces are needed in English because all letters are same thus you don`t have any breakers to be able to distinguish where one word ends and another begins, but in Japanese kanji themselves serve as breakers.

I’m not arguing about whether spaces are necessary - even English text is comprehensible without them. I’m arguing that they make it much faster and easier to learn to read.

Edit: FWIT, the evidence suggests that they don’t help competent readers. I still don’t think that refutes my claim about learning to read.