Struggling with some vocab (level 2)

Hey, folks,

I am, admittedly, new to WaniKani (I’ve only been here about a week), but I’m finding that I’m struggling a bit with vocab. My kanji/radical stats are usually in the mid-90s, while my vocab is in the low-80s. And the main issue for me is recognizing the meaning of any vocab that use the same kanji, but different suffixes-- I’m having trouble remembering which is which.

For instance, I’m mixing up 上がる and 上げる, or 下がる and 下げる. I know one means raise/rise and the other means lower/fall, but for the life of me, I can’t remember which one is which. Another problem is the 大 set of vocab – 大いに, 大きい, 大きさ, and 大した. I do fine with the readings, but I can’t recall the meanings, even with the hints that WK provides.

Is this normal to be so confused this early on? Are these the kind of things that will become more natural with more practice? I totally recognize that going from an alphanumeric language like english to a pictograph language like Japanese is going to take some adjusting, so maybe this is just me being hard on myself, but I feel like I’m struggling more than I should be. No matter how many times these pop up in my reviews, I don’t feel I’m making any progress.


This is totally normal! I had the same problem with this same group of verbs and adjectives.

To be fair, after a while you will start seeing some patterns with adjectives and nouns. So it does get easier.

For instance, when a word ends in い, it usually is an adjective.

When the same word ends in さ, its what we call a nominalizer, so it becomes a noun. So 大きい-big, 大きさ-size.

In the same way: 早いーfast, 早さ-speed.

Verbs have some patterns too, but I’m not very good at them, so I just create mnemonics. But if you know the difference between a transitive and intransitive verb, it helps.


Studying grammar will probably clear these things up. The differences in transitivity will be clearer. The distinctions between different conjugations and word forms will be clearer.

Like, once you know how to make an い adjective into a noun form with さ (高い high > 高さ height, 優しい kind > 優しさ kindness), you wouldn’t mistake 大きい and 大きさ.


For me it was all the counters, 人, and 日. Eventually you just learn them (I know, helpful right?) but in the meantime they are sooooo frustrating.

Also take a look at intransitive/transitive verbs.


Don’t forget that these reviews are not tests, they are part of a large SRS system. When you don’t know something, that’s ok. That is what the SRS system is for. The system simply matches the location of the review item with how well you know it.
I personally detest the grading system, as it gives the impression of failing and passing, while in reality it completely depends on how many new or old items are in your review session. It gives you a sense of failure, even though every review is a step closer to knowing something by heart.
Good luck on your future reviews!


Sometimes it helps to make up your own mnemonics. For example, が is for when you rise/fall on your own, but げ is when you GEt someone else to raise/lower you.

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Transitivity is actually a lot easier to keep straight than you might think.
To copy/paste a comment I made about a month ago:

Verbs that end with ~ある sounds are almost always intransitive, just like ある is intransitive.

  • がる
  • がる
  • かる
  • わる
  • まる
  • たる
  • 回る
  • まる
  • かる
  • わる
  • がる

Verbs that end with ~す (or ~せる) are almost always transitive, just like する is transitive.

  • 思い出
  • 見直
  • 欠か

These are all vocabulary words from the first 10 levels in WK. In those 10 levels, the only exceptions to these trends that I see are (coincidentally both in Level 10):

  • 語る (transitive)
  • 配る (transitive)

Most verb pairs include a word with an ~える sound, like 止める, 当てる, 終える, or 出る for example. These verbs just flip the transitivity of their partner verb.


Edit: 語る and 配る shouldn’t even give you trouble, because to my knowledge, they are simply standalone verbs (i.e., they don’t have partner verbs). They also wouldn’t make very much sense as intransitive verbs, either: “I recited.” or “I distributed.” both sound super awkward, unless you say what you were reciting/distributing, like 何かを語る・何かを配る.

A verb taking the particle like that is what defines it as transitive :slight_smile:


I couldn’t agree more.
All those race to 60 and accuracy sharing threads/posts really contribute to the feeling that accuracy below 95% is failure. I do struggle quite a bit with readings, especially kanji and vocab that share the same meaning but not the same reading. Also a fair amount of mnemonics don’t want to stick easily, though if I don’t get it right then I get more chances to get it right until it eventually sticks. At least that’s what I hope. :smiley:


This is beautiful, thank you!

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My accuracy is in the mid 80s. It’s good!

i just started using wanikani this past week as well, and the way i remember which one is which is just based on the order that they introduced them to me. i am a very visual and chronological thinker/learner though, so if that doesn’t match you, then i may not be very helpful : |

the first of these vocab words they showed me was 下がる and they were explaining how the sun falls, but no one is making it do that, making it an intransitive verb.

after that, they showed me 下げる and they explained how you can lower your blood pressure, making it a transitive verb.

now, whenever they give me one of these two verbs, i think and remember which one it is, the first or the second they introduced to me. if it was the second one (げ), i know it is transitive and it means to lower. if it was the first one (が), i know it is intransitive.

not sure if thinking about it like that helps or not, but i tend to remember what order that they introduce the different radicals/kanji/vocab, and that helps me. the other commenters have posted some good tips and references, so just keep working at it, and it’s normal to be frustrated at something, especially if it’s new to you.

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