Remembering when there is an extra う or a っ

Going through so many new items, it’s very difficult to remember if what you needed was simply こ or was it こう?
Was it よつ or was it よっつ… I constantly get these basically right, but often I will leave off that extra U at the end, or get it wrong between the tsu and ttsu.

Does anyone have an tips for remembering which to use when?


There’s no rule or anything you can be sure of, so I wouldn’t try to think of it that way.

Depending on the word, something like 四つ can be よつ or よっつ. For instance, 四つ角 (four corners, crossroads) is よつかど

三つ can be みつ in words like 三つ編み (braided hair)

So, just exposure and memorization really.

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The other thing that was helpful for me was to read things out aloud and occasionally check the audio pronunciations.

I mean, I still get this kinds of things wrong a lot, but I think a bit less now, as I sometimes get this feeling that “oh, this word/reading isn’t quite long enough/too long” and then try and figure out which bit is too short/too long.

When there is a u like こう, u read koÔ, prolonging the o sound, so when u repeat frenquetly right, it will be more natural to remember the writing.
In the case of the double tsu, like がっこう, u leave a pause after the が and pronunciate the こ stronger, something like gak.koô.
Maybe this could help, try reading this way

More confusing to me are the words like 十日 (とおか) and 氷 (こおり) that use お instead of う for the elongated sound. I asked the 国語 teacher who sits next to me about this, and she said that even native Japanese speakers get this mixed up.

It’s silly, but I tend to try and find a way to think of that extra possible “う” as something I could include the word “yoU” in as a mnemonic (especially if it contains よう) or I will try to look for a “U” shape in the kanji itself.

Like 八日 ( ようか ) for “eight days” looks like it has an upside down “U” in it…

Or 用 ( よう ) for “task” maybe like “YOU pet the elephant.”

Going further with 公用 ( こうよう ) might be something like “Kou and You are on official business”

But this method can backfire if you try and read a kanji too hard and search for an elusive “u” or “you” when trying to remember a mnemonic for it and there isn’t supposed to be one.

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Like Leebo said there are probably no hard rules, but you recognized that this is an important issue, especially then the length of tones is not so important in your native language, so you can work on it. Just remembering “something with KO” is not sufficient for Japanese because こう and こ can result in very different meanings.

Best thing is to revise your learning style to focus on the differences, like mnemonics with こういち → こう.

In singing, people really sing morae, so it is really こ-う と-お-か. So, you can try to pronounce distinct morae, rather than prolonged vowels, if you want.


十日 took a minute for me to get used too as well, but I ended up going with the idea that if you look at the combination of kanji just right, it can look closely like the English word “TOO” with the ’ t ’ from 十 and then two stacked “O” letters (well, squares) from the 日 … maybe that can help?

Hey, you almost stole my name! :sweat_smile: For a second there I thought I had written that.

To stress the important of difference in meanings:

Not sure where I heard the story, but there was a foreigner working as an advisor for some high profile chairman, and at an important meeting he wanted to tell that he is the advisor of the chairman, 顧問 (こもん), but ended up saying 肛門 (こうもん), so he was the chairman’s anus.


The number of homophones in Japanese makes things like this easy, but こうもん can also be “school gate,” so I wouldn’t be too worried about making these mistakes. Usually the worst that happens is the person just don’t know what you are trying to say.


This honestly becomes easier then you’d think possible. Eventually you become better at visualizing japanese in your head and you’ll be able to feel if a word is long or short. Sorry I know that that NOT helpful, but it’s been one hundred percent true for me. I was really annoyed at the beginning and it a non issue now mostly.

One thing that can help is the pronunciation provided with vocab.
You’ll have to memorize the extra うand っ when in kanji and the とお in ten things, but during vocab you can start training yourself to hear it.

Thanks for the tips everyone

Also listen to the audio sample, multiple times if needed, to really get a feel for the word.

Do what WaniKani does best: mnemonics.

Include a special detail in the story when there is a long vowel or consonant. You can use the user note to write it down. For instance, imagine everything is slowed down 10 times.

四つ: You’re counting your things, but very slowly. “Oooooooonnnnnee. Twwwwooooooo…”

Find a detail that is easy for you to pull from your memory.

What a stupid example I gave. :expressionless:

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