Ritsu vs tatsu

立つ - tatsu (to stand)
立 - ritsu (stand)

These always trip me up. What’s a good way to remember the difference?


Just spitballing here, but how about, when it’s the verb “stand” you need t(h)a(t) tsu to stand, but if it’s part of a compound it’s getting help from other kanji and you can get ri(d of the) tsu (meaning you can’t see it on the outside… Or whatever)

Lol pretty dumb but there ya go?

Edit: though maybe it would be confusing since it’s the opposite of what you need to answer on WK… It helps for writing it generally I guess.


when you stand but the ceiling is low, your head will hit it and do a TA sound (like these comics sound effects, a balloon with TA)

I happen to know tatsu before (tachimasu, tatte kudasai etc.). I memorized ritsu following wanikani course. When I encounter into verb one I already write tatsu. If i encounter it in as compounded or noun then I go the the other way of verb standing tatsu which leads to remaining choice ritsu.

This is my logic.

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Maybe it’s ritzier(りつ) to have just the single kanji? Only kids (tots-たつ) need the extra つ on the end.


In situations like this, I find it useful to make up my own additional mnemonic to help me out. In this instance, to remember ‘tatsu’ I think back to professional wrestling (as one does).

A few years ago, there was a wrestler in WWE who went by the name ‘Yoshi Tatsu’. He ended up getting injured pretty badly one day and broke some bones in his neck. He got treated and recovered, but it took a really long time before he was able ‘to stand’ again. I think of him as ‘Yoshi 立つ’ now, or ‘Yoshi To Stand’ in English.

Making up your own mnemonic that means something to you would probably help you remember better than the one that I made, but feel free to use mine if it helps.

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I don’t know if this really helps much, but it’s worth noting that there are certain sounds which were not found at the start of Old Japanese words, and which are therefore uncommon at the start of kun’yomi:

  • r

  • b, d, z, g (voiced consonants with voiceless equivalents, i.e. the ones marked with a dakuten)

This doesn’t mean that there don’t exist any kun’yomi beginning with these consonants (very few people speak 8th century Japanese, these days), but it may serve as a nice rule of thumb:

“Hmm, りつ begins with r, so it’s probably on’yomi, so it’s probably the one used in compounds and not in inflected verbs.”

I also think that learning words that use the reading is the best way to keep them separate in the long run.

The expression 役に立つ is helpful when remembering the kun’yomi of 立つ … which is kind of amusing, considering it means “helpful”.


To properly learn this kanji you need to write 立 on a Ritz (りつ) cracker and then eat the cracker. (There’s no room to write any kana there, just the one character).

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立つ (たつ) is an actual word (verb) meaning “to stand,” whereas 立 (りつ) is simply a word part:

  • 市立 (しりつ, municipal)
  • 自立 (じりつ, self-reliance)
  • 私立 (しりつ, private (establishment))
  • 対立 (たいりつ, opposition)
  • 私立大学 (しりつだいがく, private college)
  • 立派 (りっぱ, splendid (つ → っ))
  • 創立 (そうりつ, establishment)
  • 独立 (どくりつ, independence)
  • 擁立 (ようりつ, support)
  • 孤立 (こりつ, isolation (standing alone))

There are some words that involve 立つ (or its noun-ified verb stem, 立ち), but those words will have okurigana (hiragana belonging to the word) that should make it clear that the りつ reading does not apply to them. There is also a transitive (as opposed to the intransitive 立つ) word, which is 立てる (たてる) and means “to stand/erect [something],” or “to stand [something] upright.”

This is how you should think of all of WK’s (pink) kanji reviews— they are word parts.
The (purple) vocab reviews are real words.


To answer your question more specifically though, verbs always have okurigana, because we need to know what form the verb is in. 立 can’t be a verb because it’s has no okurigana. 立つ has to be a word (verb) because that’s what the つ is showing us.

Also, “りつ” is not a verb anywhere in Japanese.


Tx everyone for the suggestions :slight_smile:

As you progress to upper levels, you will realize that mnemonics are pointless.
It is thanks to the errors you do during the quizz, and the periodic reinforcement of this items, that the items will get into your brain.
Mnemonics dont make it much faster to memorize, it even makes it slower to retrieve the keyword itself, and you cannot learn mnemonics for 5000 items anyway.

The best pieces of advice are :

  • just don’t cheat during the quiz.
  • be very focused when you do the reviews, as you will be more receptive to reinforcement (error -> displeasure -> memory reinforcement). Go in a quiet room, and turn off radio/tv.
  • of course, do you reviews as frequently as possible. i do it every hour (as my job is to work on a computer).
    I think you need at least 6 months to really feel the power of this routine.

ps: and oh, phono-semantic makes it easier to sort kanji in you brain, because of the way kanji share the same pronunciation.
I dig Wiktionary and take notes of the kanji etymology, radical structure, and if it was modified by a legal reform (shinjitai vs. kiûjitai)

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