Remembering Different Readings

I just started using WaniKani a week or so ago and I’ve found that the mnemonics are working great for me. My only problem is that some vocabulary just say, “You already know this (onyomi/kunyomi) reading, so use this reading here.” Even though a kanji is taught with a primary reading, I find myself having trouble remembering when to use it, sometimes mixing up other different readings from other words. Do you guys have any tips or tricks to help remember when to use the primary reading, or is this just something I wasn’t paying enough attention to at the beginning that I need to focus more on?


Have you ever read a word in English that you knew, but were seeing for the first time? And then you go “oh, it’s spelled like that?”

Obviously in one’s native language, you have a broad foundation before you begin reading anything, and reading is just a layer on top of that.

When you learn a second language like Japanese, it helps to have such a foundation as well. If you don’t have that foundation, you can’t expect to just “feel” the right readings. You need to build up experience and gain familiarity with the words, not just the kanji and their individual readings.

I was reading a little while ago, and came across the word 裏庭.

I had never seen that word before, but because I knew the kanji, I could understand it perfectly well. The only question was, should it be read with the onyomi, which would make it りてい, or with the kunyomi, as うらにわ. I almost instantly disregarded りてい because it just sounded wrong to me. Later I checked, and it is indeed うらにわ. I can’t tell you why I was able to guess it right, but that just came from experience.


Got it, that makes sense. I’ll keep at it and build that foundation. Thanks for the reply!

If you’re okay with using userscripts, there’s a couple that might help getting a better grip on on’yomi vs kun’yomi:

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