Single-character Vocabulary Items

You know what change I would really, really, REALLY like to see in WaniKani?

When a vocabulary item consists of a single character, allow the same leeway on reading mistakes as you do with kanjis that have multiple readings.

I’m on level 8, and among the new words taught at this level are 場所、他所、名所、住所,出所、入所. The last character of all of these is pronounced しょ. This week, I’ve totally got しょ on my mind. Then, in a vocabulary review, along comes plain old 所 on its own. Unthinkingly, I type しょ, and boom, get the full WaniKani You-screwed-up-buddy-are-you-sure-you-even-know-what-you’re-doing? response.

If you make that mistake while doing a kanji review, no problem - WK tells you it’s the wrong reading, and lets you try again. But if you make it while reviewing vocab, you’re bounced back to Apprentice level.

It’s really frustrating, especially when you already know the word perfectly well. But it’s such an easy mistake to make, especially when you have a lot of items to review.

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The difference is it’s not a mistake during the kanji item review. It’s correct. It’s just that they want to make sure you answer with the one they’ve determined is most useful before letting you move on.

When it’s vocab, it’s just wrong.

And I agree that it’s frustrating, but I think your keyword was “unthinkingly.” Take your time, I guess.

In the real world, or on a test, 所 by itself is not しょ.


It may be annoying, but it’s unlikely that anything will change.

The userscripts (like the override one) help a lot to reduce these kinds of annoyances, and at worst, vocab mistakes don’t affect your level-up rate.

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“There are many astros in the nocti sky.”
“Smoking is mal for your pneumonos.”

Are these sentences right? I hope not. Surely “stars” should replace “astros” and “night” should replace “nocti.” Similarly, “bad” should replace “mal” and “lungs” should replace “pneumonos.”

“Astro” and “star” have the same meaning.
“Nocti” and “Night” have the same meaning.
“Mal” and “Bad” have the same meaning.
“Pneumono” and “Lung” have the same meaning.

However, only those on the right are actually words, while those on the left are simply units of meaning. If you were asked to provide prefixes, suffixes, and words of a certain meaning, you would effectively be listing the kanji meaning. In this case, “astro” and “star” are both correct answers when asked to provide an English way to describe giant, natural nuclear reactors in space.

Meanwhile, if you asked a Japanese person if they prefered びょう or けん (猫 or 犬), they would likely be quite confused.

I totally understand the frustration, as single-kanji kun’yomi can be very hard to remember if you have no prior experience to using them or hearing them used. To add onto the difficult, because they are used sparingly in compounds, you see the on’yomi much more. Just try to think of the on’yomi and compound kun’yomi as prefixes/suffixes and the stand-alone kun’yomi as actual words.

Although, personally, I wouldn’t mind if English decided to either use prefixes for numbers like most Latin-based languages (uni, bi, tri, etc) or to simply make compound words German-style (two-wheeler instead of bicycle). Despite all of the differences between English and Japanese, this is one frustratingly similarity I have to appreciate. :rofl:


I think people just get confused by the “leeway” of the kanji items. The OP (and most other people who make these topics) assume that WK is being “lenient” by letting their “wrong answers” be brushed off with the kanji items, when that’s not really what’s happening. They then say, “hey if you were lenient then, why not now”? To be fair, WK doesn’t really explain what’s going on, so it’s a reasonable assumption for a beginner.


Wouldnt knowing the word “perfectly well” mean that you know how its read?

If you somehow miss the part where 50% of the screen is purple and the words “vocab reading” and dont actually realize its asking for vocab reading, thats one thing, but otherwise you’re 100% wrong.

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Some of us are really good at blocking out certain cues, especially once we’re used to them. Remember, reviews do not reflect conditions in the wild. In the wild, I am better at identifying the meanings and pronounciations of words than I am during reviews, because the clues around the single-kanji words tell me this is a word.

I think the bounce would reinforce the distinction (oops! that was the kanji reading! you want the vocab word! retry!) instead of letting all the mistakes blur into a mess of wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, and forgetting what applies where and giving up on remembering the distinction because you’ve made too many mistakes with it. The result of every attempt to remember being wrong, despite being really close, gets really destructive and frustrating after awhile. And when you’re going through 100 or more reviews, it’s easier to keep failing something than to deal with it. Remember, the reminder doesn’t automatically pass you; what it does is force you to do something right for once.

Huh, interesting.

And what about the people that actually didnt know the correct answer? What about the people that knew WK was asking for the vocab reading of 所 and they still put in しょ because they couldnt remember if it was ところ or しょ. Do they just get a free pass?

If you really are so good at blocking out all the cues to tell you its a vocab word, I would suggest just using the ignore script. Otherwise, just pay more attention.

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Let me look at my own apprentice vocab items and see what single-kanji vocab gets caught in the apprentice-guru-master centrifugal cycle because of mistaken readings… let’s see…

I have six one-word items out of roughly 100 apprentice vocab items. (Review life has been sucky lately.)

陣 (じん)、奥(おく)、価(あたい)、稲(いね)、並(なみ), 額(がく)…

For me, this problem really only applies to two of these, 稲 and 並. 2%. I have a handle on 稲 but I don’t know how long this will last as the kanji reading is so close (いな). 並 needs more work, and it’s been through the apprentice-guru-master cycle a few times. I know exactly what 並 means and sounds in context or when prompted for vocab meaning.

In Guru I have only two stand-alones out of 110 or so. 銃 is fine. 跡 has this problem… In context I can read it fine, in reviews I have trouble. きみの跡(せき)wouldn’t make sense. きみの跡(あと)does.

Master, out of 110 or so: 旬、甲、鹿、柱、、盤、
Four of those are affected (bolded). Two of these I would definitely remember if prompted with context or a “vocab” reminder.

There’s not as many items affected by this as I thought, at least not this late in the process. There’s going to be way less single-vocab at level 42 than at level 8, so I barely have to deal with this anymore.

Out of the total number of reviewable items there are not very few single-character vocab items; within the single-character vocab items, there’s a sizeable proportion of items that get sent back due to reading confusion issues. Some leeches fall into this category and get stuck a long time. The inverse of this problem, kanji entered with the vocab meaning, occurs occasionally and is just as annoying, so the total cases of kanji/vocab mixups feels like more; there’s a doubling effect. The scale of the problem could feel bigger because of that.

So there’s some observations and data.

Note: Edited for clarity.

Your first answer is still rejected. That’s valuable feedback. The difference is, instead of sending it back to the back of a queue to be forgotten and lost again, ignore script or not, you get to retry immediately.

The people who are really determined to be straight-laced about their learning type ああああああ!and fail it. The people who don’t know the vocab reading at all will fail it. If the reminder “oy! this is a word, not a kanji!” helps you, and you don’t blank out in confusion, then don’t you actually know the answer? If the answer is no, then what’s the difference between this idea and the existing kanji system again?

All I’m saying is why it’s worth considering. Not that it’s necessary, or feasible.

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Maybe I’m just tired, but I have no idea what you’re trying to say.

So do you think its worth it to not verify that the person actually knew the proper reading? As I said before, there will be some people who actually dont know if its しょ or ところ. Some people dont actually understand the importance of remembering the vocab reading as specifically being the reading for the vocab.

If it shook, wouldn’t people assume it’s shaking for the same reason as the kanji shakes?

And since the reason it shakes on kanji is “your answer was right, but we want to see the most common reading before you continue” it just seems like the wrong message will be conveyed.


OK, I think I finally see where you are coming from…somewhat. A person inputs the kanji reading instead of the vocabulary reading.

So to solve that problem of rewarding the wrong answer,

  1. Make them retry with the right answer immediately.
  2. Take the vocab out of the review queue after the retry answer, but mark it wrong, just like the other items you got wrong.


  1. Make them retry with the right answer immediately.
  2. Put the vocab back in the review queue and force them to get it right on first try before passing it from the queue.

This avoids building up a slew of wrong responses but doesn’t reward the second answer, though it may have other effects on learning.

And none of that may cure your real objection, which seems to be that vocab should not be conflated with kanji because of people who refuse to distinguish between the two. :thinking: No idea how to address that, except by making the animation a bit fancier with a message reminder, or an example sentence for context as a clue, like “この額は壊れている。” not a simple shake. …this one is a lot harder for me to conceptually get my mind around.

OH. You don’t want to imply that the kanji meaning “works” or is “equivalent” to the vocab meaning in the vocab context.

I do this all the time. But my problem is not noticing the purple background. 生 is a common culprit for me in both reading and actual vocab word XD I understand the frustration, but I like the way it is because it tells me to slow down (because I was just rushing past the bright purple background.) Also, 土 which is forever on my wall of shame, same issue. Maybe it bothers me because I type on a Japanese keyboard and can always scroll through until I find the kanji I want with any reading XD Could just be laziness though. :wink:

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All, Wow, thanks very much for your comments. The speed, detail level, thoughtfulness, and mostly positive tone say a lot about who and how engaged the WK community is. It was all interesting, even though much of it was over my head (for now).

I still say that even though you know a word really well, it can be very easy to make review mistakes in WK. I’m new here, but I’ve been studying Japanese for years, and in any written text in the real world, I’d be reading ところ for a standalone 所 as naturally as if I were reading English. So I think that penalizing the error had no practical benefit at all.

Yeah, I’m wrong, I get that, thank you. All I’m really saying is, some wrongs are more equal here than others. If you use a wrong-but-valid-in-other-contexts reading with Kanji, you get the wobble and a gentle reminder that you need the other kind of reading; if you do precisely the same thing in Vocabulary, it’s drag out the red, you’re wrong, wrong, wrong and you’re going down. Personally, I probably would have designed it to use the gentle reminder both ways.

Still getting used to this, but essentially, it’s a matter of paying closer attention to the minutiae. I forecast that over the next level or two, that’ll get baked in and this’ll all be moot. 

Thanks again,



But not newbies. It leads to bad habits. The way it works right now is for the best.

And if you actually know the word that well, I guess spending 10 extra seconds reviewing it won’t be too much of a bother :slight_smile:

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Not to state the obvious, but WK isn’t intended for use by people who can read the kanji already, even if said people happen to use it :slight_smile:


@jhlearner I agree with others that the current behaviour is fine. しょ should not be accepted for the vocabulary 所. But I definitely understand the frustration when you answer and hit Enter before you quite register whether this is a radical, kanji, vocabulary, reading, or meaning.

But there is a simple solution to that: use the Reorder script (Wanikani Reorder Ultimate 2) so that you can always do radicals before kanji before vocabulary, and always readings before meanings (or any other order you prefer). I don’t usually sort by “type” but I do sort by reading/meaning because I find it soothes my nerves and reinforces the meaning-reading paring.

Leebo, Not to state the obvious, but no one logs onto WK multiple times a day virtually every day for 9+ weeks, laboriously grinds their way through 8 WK levels, 789 vocabulary items, 274 kanji characters, 326 onyomi readings, 286 kunyomi readings, and 194 radicals - and pays for the privilege - unless they feel they’re learning a hell of a lot by doing so.

Sezme, that’s a great thought, thanks for the headsup. And thanks for completely getting where the frustration’s coming from. :sunglasses: I haven’t looked into scripts at all yet, clearly they’re worth learning about.


I mean, vocab items don’t really weigh in on whether or not you level up anyways. You getting it wrong just means you’ll have more chances to review it and may even stay further in your long term memory as a result. :slight_smile:

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