"Shake, try again" vs "Red, that's wrong"

Sometimes if I type the wrong reading (on vs. run), the reading field will ‘shake’ and give me another chance to get it right. Other times, it just marks me wrong.

What’s the difference? When does wanikani do one vs. the other? The seeming inconsistency is a bit strange and irritating.

The difference is one is kanji and the other is vocab.

Kanji can have multiple readings, so the box shakes and gives you another try if you entered the ‘wrong’ one.
Vocab only have 1 reading (most of the time), and so it will always mark you wrong if you enter the wrong reading.

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Why is this counted as incorrect? にち/日

It shakes for when you’re using the kunyomi (Japanese) reading for a kanji but it wants the onyomi (Chinese pronunciation). It’s telling you that you’re “right” in that it can be read that way but that isn’t the way it should be read on its own, since most kanji should be read with the onyomi pronunciation when not in a verb form. If you try to use the onyomi reading in a vocab word and it’s a verb or a stand-alone word (not a compound), it’s usually the kunyomi reading ONLY that is right and acceptable.

I hope that makes sense! There are of course exceptions to the above rule in the Japanese language but by and large that’s how it works and why it works the way it does on WK. :slight_smile:

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Now that you’ve explained it, this makes sense, but this isn’t communicated well by the UI at all. Might be a good thing to put in the FAQ.

Not communicated well? Isn’t there a little pop-up bubble that tells you what reading WK is looking for?
(Although, if you had a different idea in mind for a clearer communication, you could post that in Suggestions or whatever area it is that suggestions are posted cx)

@Jaceiok Sometimes WK wants the kun-readings; one time, I had gotten 兄 (the kanji for older brother) and I put in きょう (like in 兄弟- siblings) instead of あに and WK said “no we want the kun’yomi.” But yeah, a majority of the time, it is the on-readings they want.

The UI does distinguish between kanji and vocab fairly clearly (different colors, different font sizes, category of item is displayed) but they don’t bother really explaining what was explained here. In some cases they assume the user has no experience with Japanese. In other cases they seem to assume that you’re at least a beginner. For instance, they assume you know how to read hiragana.

What’s not communicated well is the “we tell you you used the wrong reading when working on kanji, but not on vocabulary words” that was explained here. (And after getting the answers I looked around a bit more, and this question is asked a ton of times on the forums - so I’m not the only one who found it utterly confusing.)

I’m sorry but that is the obvious part, and also the reason why the WK team don’t explain it anywhere. It is very, very rare for a word to have more than one reading. And not just in japanese, any language. The problem is the users not noticing/paying attention to the background colour (pink/purple).

It wasn’t obvious to me, or presumably to the many other people who asked the same question. I’m happy that you found it obvious, though!


It’s important to understand that the other reading in kanji is not “wrong.” It’s a totally acceptable reading, which is why WaniKani doesn’t penalize you for it. It’s just not the main reading they want you to associate with the kanji before you move on to vocab. The vocab that use the reading that’s taught with the kanji don’t have individual mnemonics because they rely on you to have learned the one from the kanji lesson. The ones using other readings have mnemonics of their own. So the reasoning has to do with preparing you for material you’re going to learn later— it’s not that one reading is “wrong.”

On vocab, on the other hand, there is a correct reading and usually that’s it. Again, there’s a problem with your terminology here. It’s not that you offered “the wrong reading” of the vocab. The vocab usually only has one reading, not one correct one and other incorrect ones. Don’t be tempted to mix up kanji and vocab and think that because kanji have multiple readings, vocab also have multiple readings, some “wrong” and some “right.” That’s not how it works.

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For kanji (pink background) reviews, there is a userscript which tells you which reading (kunyomi or onyomi) is required.

If you have never installed a userscript, please read this.

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