Skipping radicals (probably for the 100,000th time already)

I don’t know how fluent you are in Chinese, but you will absolutely be shooting yourself in the foot when you come across kanji that you don’t know when you don’t; you won’t be able to follow along the mnemonics. You can certainly make your own mnemonics based on your radical knowledge now, but at that point you have to question what use is WK to you?

Though I’ve never personally used it, those who usually don’t take the WK route go with the Remembering the Kanji route, so I’d probably recommend that if you want to have all the freedom to learn what you want/need.


Thank you all for your kind response! I totally agree with the methodology of learning the radicals first, it’s also how we learned as kids in school. I tried not skipping the radicals at first, but I found myself asking “what’s the use of memorizing the so-called radical ‘leaf’, it’s just the stroke Piě plus the stroke Héng”.

I realise that Wanikani is not designed with Chinese native speakers in mind, but at the moment it still seems to be the most useful kanji learning tool that I can find. What’s good about Wanikani is the combination of the readings and the vocabs, it’s what lacks in my Japanese course. I find that the reading is really easy to forget if not combined with vocabulary. But since I’m still waiting for the kanjis to be unblocked, I guess I’ll see how useful Wanikani is for me later on :joy:

(Yes I’ve tried searching the Chinese internet, the often recommended 漢検 app is still too advanced for me. Otherwise I’m open to suggestions.)


How fluent are you in English? :thinking:


Clearly not very fluent. :man_facepalming:


As a native Chinese speaker, you can probably recognize the rough meaning of most Kanji already. But can you read traditional Chinese? You probably know that Japanese Kanji are less simplified than Chinese Hanzi.

The radicals will be part of stories to remember the Kanji and their readings, and are absolutely essential to WK. If you think you can remember the japanese meanings and readings of the Kanji without WK’s mnemonics, you can skip radicals. But i don’t think you can. I also think a lot of the japanese meanings of Kanji are different from the chinese ones, especially compounds.

I wrote in more detail on WK’s radicals in another thread:

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by the way, here’s a simple solution, if you decide to ignore the warnings:


I cannot forget all the old radical names everytime I go to type in the new name, I already typed in the old one🙄

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I know this will probably sound stupid, but here’s my thought:

Japanese is not Chinese.

I know, they have some of the same characters, some of the same readings, etc., but it’s a fundamentally different language, and it might be helpful to just treat it as such. Some of your knowledge will carry over, but probably just enough to confuse you if you’re trying to skip over parts of Japanese using your Chinese knowledge.

Personally, I think someday I want to study Chinese, but only because I want to see where the kanji came from and why. I also realize that my Japanese knowledge will be nearly useless in that endeavor, and it is what it is.


I think the OP is aware of that. They’re just saying they don’t need to learn the shapes, and that’s the main use of WaniKani radicals.

Yes, but in Japanese, radicals are named differently (even the actual linguistic ones), and the unique names Wanikani gives them kind of reinforces this fact. It’s kind of like if I, as a native English speaker, were to try to learn Spanish. It’s just close enough to English for me to think I can take shortcuts, but I really can’t. I have to approach it on its own terms.

Frankly, I don’t think Wanikani should have named them radicals. Maybe “eggs” or something turtle themed, but it gets confusing when you’re trying to compare them against actual radicals, such as in Chinese or Japanese. They aren’t radicals, not in the sense of either language, and even if you know the shapes, it helps to be able to use the terminology that Wanikani wants to use. I think others have brought up that point, though, so I’ll leave it there.

(I don’t think Wanikani should have named them radicals for the same reason Facebook shouldn’t have called them friends. It creates unrealistic expectations.)

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I’m not sure what you’re getting at… You think this person should memorize mnemonics they don’t need for the purpose of actually recognizing the kanji… But instead so that they are reminded that the real radicals have different names that they aren’t learning here?

No. I think that Wanikani calls them something, and that’s the method they use for teaching the kanji. They’re fundamental building blocks of Wanikani, not so much kanji per se. Radicals themselves are fundamental building blocks of Japanese, but these aren’t radicals, and I think that’s confusing.

If I’m still not making myself clear, I’ll just drop it, because it’s not worth arguing over. Thanks for responding.


I don’t think the main use of WK’s radicals is to learn the shapes.
The main use of WK’s radicals is to use their names for mnemonics,
so that you can build a memorable story out of a kanji’s building blocks.

And the meanings of a lot of kanji and compounds are different from Chinese to Japanese, not to mention the less simplified characters, as written above.

Also, to quote myself again (@duskglow):


And from those building blocks you make… a kanji’s shape. No?

Yes, but the point is not learning the shape, the point is learning its name, as i said.
The shape in itself is useless for building a mnemonic (story), without its name.

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The “shape” was kanji shapes.

You use the radicals (and their names) to learn how to recognize kanji (which are distinguished by the shapes they consist of).

The OP already knows how to recognize kanji by looking at them, so the mnemonics are just busywork.

i don’t get your point. For mnemonics, you need to give radicals names. And if you don’t use WK’s radical names, all of WKs mnemonics are useless, and so WK is basically useless, other than being a decent SRS on its own as OP said

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Hence why the OP wants to skip radicals…

Do people here actually bother to learn the mnemonics for kanji they already learned elsewhere?

yeah, i still don’t get it. My whole argument was that it’s a bad idea to skip radicals (and their WK names).
I gave a simple method to half-skip radicals above. (auto-fill their names in reviews with a script)

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And my point is if you already know a kanji (which the OP said they did) then learning a mnemonic for it is just busywork.