Spacing Out Transitive & Intransitive Verbs

Have you ever confused transitive and intransitive verbs like 入る and 入れる before? I know I have!

Differentiating between these pairs of verbs is a major struggle for learners of Japanese. Research suggests that it is more effective to learn one verb in a pair first before being introduced to the other. For this reason, we’ve decided to alter the sequencing in which these words will appear in your lessons. In our new sequencing, verb pairs are separated by at least one level, giving you ample time to build strong connections in your brain for one word before being asked to learn another.

This sequencing will go live on Thursday April 1st (no, this is not an April Fool’s joke :joy:), at which time it’s possible that some vocabulary words will disappear from your reviews. Don’t fret! These words will be re-introduced to you when you reach the level they’ve been moved to, and you’ll pick up where you left of in terms of SRS stage.

For now, we’ve only altered the sequencing for levels 1-30. Higher levels will come in our next update. This is part of a larger project to improve how we teach transitivty on WaniKani, so stay tuned!

If you’re thinking “transitiWHAT!?” you can read about it here :wink:


Fantastic! They’ve always been a struggle for me, so glad to see this update! Thank you!


It’s awesome all of the development WaniKani has been receiving over the past couple of months (this, collocations, shake messages, future transitivity improvements).

Is this flurry of development activity part of some larger project / plans? @camfugu


Thank you, Cam! :durtle_noice: :sparkles:


I’ve already kind of been doing this myself on other srs systems I use(though to a slightly larger extent, with separation of some similar words that aren’t vorbs too) and found it pretty helpful, so nice to see wk doing it as well :slight_smile:


Is this flurry of development activity part of some larger project / plans?

We’ve always got lots of projects and plans in the works, and quite a few of them made their way onto the app recently like you noticed! Just trying to make WK as effective as possible for you :slight_smile:


@WaniMekani thank Cam


And I just failed 映る again!!


I found it extremely helpful to be reminded immediately that a verb is solely transitive or intransitive when its counterpart showed up in a lesson. That seemed brilliant for fighting the English perspective of most verbs being both.

Maybe I just need to catch up on my grammar studies.


I wonder what the rest of the ‘changes to teaching transitivity’ are.

Personally I have given every pair I come across synonyms like so:

開ける: to open something
開く: to be opened

And then answer all verb meanings using these synonyms. That way I properly learn to differentiate between the two immediatlely. Otherwise ‘to open’ would for example ‘correctly’ answer both of them, thereby not teaching me the difference.

I would hope WK would implement something akin to this by default. Yea it’s more to learn for the user, but I feel transitivity/intransitivity verb mistakes are super common for learners exactly because it’s not focused on enough when learning new verbs.


Interesting change.

I’m honestly not sure whether I’d prefer to see them side by side or spread out like that.

Hopefully you guys get some good feedback. :smiley:


And correct me if I’m wrong, but WK just completely ignores the word ひらく, right? Even though it’s super common and it can also be written 開く and it can be either transitive or intransitive…

Deciding if something is meant to be read as あく or ひらく remains tricky for a long time.


This is great! I still have problems with this concept and I’ve studied it 10000000 times. Not sure if I should just study all the pairs side by side or just absorb them through immersion.
Anyone got advice on that?

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They mention the ひらく during the lesson for 開く as another reading with a different meaning, but only accept あく as the answer. I don’t know if ひらく triggers a shake or not, I haven’t seen it come up in a while.


Re: 開く

These are great points you bring up! 開く is one of the trickier verbs that we deal with, since it can be both transitive and intransitive and has these two different readings. We’re definitely working on ways to address this.

For now though, if you type in ひらく when asked for the reading of 開く, you’ll see the following message:

That’s possible, but it’s not the reading/meaning pair you learned for this word.

We’ll definitely keep working on the system though and we’ll post here if/when there is an update to announce :slight_smile:


Thank the lord


From someone who has suffered a lot over the years because of these:



I’m wondering if this helps or if it actually makes it worse. I mean, you can more or less predict which one it’ll be based on where each of them are in SRS, and I could see myself just forgetting that they’re different items and guessing. I think when they’re on the same level then you’re forced to actually look at the okurigana and remember what differentiates the two.

It’s kind of like when there are two very similar looking kanji in the same level as opposed to 20 levels apart. The same level you’ll make a deliberate effort to differentiate them, but if they’re far apart you might not even know they’re different until they happen to be reviewed near each other and you get them wrong (for instance just this week I noticed that 暁 and 焼 are different kanji). It won’t affect me personally but I’m just wondering if other people are the same way.


That happens to me too sometimes. As long as they introduce the second one by saying “don’t confuse this with X, here’s a mnemonic to tell them apart” it’s usually okay but when they don’t do that it can cause problems.