Remembering reading through meaning

Apologies if this has already been posted elsewhere.

Some advice needed: I am struggling with some vocabulary readings. The problem that I have is that when trying to remember the reading, I rely too much upon the actual kanji reading to jig my memory rather than remembering how it’s actually pronounced. For example, when trying to remember the reading for “何月” I am more likely to remember “なんげつ” rather than “なんがつ” . I am somehow not associating the pronunciation with the vocabulary item as you would for other languages. For instance, you would learn that the word for cat - and the sound the word makes - in French is “chat” or “gatto” in Italian. So what would help me remember that the word for “what month” is “なんがつ”? This is just an example, but I have similar issues with other vocabulary items, especially when the reading used is somewhat irregular.

I hope I explained this properly!

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In the case of 月/げつ/がつ, げつ is often used when the kanji is at the beginning of the word, がつ often comes at the end.

Someone will probably come along with a better rule, but in the meantime…

Japanese is full of nonsense like this :slight_smile:


The reading for 何月(なんがつ) has been giving me trouble for well over a year… :melting_face:
I think the main reason is because of the word 先月(せんげつ), so I try to repeat both of these words together when I encounter them but it’s not really working too well for me haha. I don’t really worry about words like this tho, I’m sure they’ll sort themselves out eventually!

何月 is a word that goes with specific months of the year. Which month? January? February? July? Since the names of the months use がつ, so does 何月, since all you’re doing is replacing the number (saying which one) with 何 (asking which one)

If it doesn’t correspond to a specific month (rather, any monthly period), it usually uses げつ


With cases like this, I try to remember a default reading or rule, and then make some sort of mnemonic for the exceptions. For instance that the answer to the question “what month?” is hay fever month, and you are sneezing non stop (which sounds like あつ in my language, I am not sure how well that works in English). I do the same thing with 人 and stories about Nintendo, and 大 and stories about ties and universities. It is working ok so far, although these are still difficult to remember. Just guessing until it sticks however definitely did not work for me.

I think my question is more to do with how to remember vocabulary words without ‘tricks’, if that makes sense. Do you listen to the pronunciation every time? Do you say it out loud a few times to make it stick?

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You hear/use it enough that you just know it.


This works the best in the long run, but just using the wanikani SRS is usually not enough to reach this level. At least not for the difficult words with multiple possible pronunciations.

The whole point of wanikani is using mnemonics to remember words. So they want you to remember nangatsu by thinking about the image of you feeling sick because you had naan brea and now it is giving you a pain in your guts (stomach) or gatsu. I often get this wrong as well but that’s because of my mistake in trying to remember the word from memory rather than relying on the mnemonic that wanikani supplies

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