Trouble with verb mnemonics

As the title suggests, I’ve recently been struggling with remembering verbs during reviews. I can remember the kanji reading and know the meaning but I sit staring at the screen racking my brain for the reading for the verb itself. More than half my leeches are verbs. I generally don’t like the provided mnemonics, so I often make my own, but I can’t seem to make those stick. I’ve tried incorporating the reading into the kanji mnemonic since I usually remember that fairly well, but that doesn’t seem to work very well either. Anyone else with verb struggles? What works for you?


kun’ readings are definitely the toughest thing for me, too. What works best for me is “just knowing the verb” – when I’m already familiar with the word by learning its pronunciation elsewhere. For example I learned 遊ぶ and 飛ぶ from an image -> word & audio flashcard deck before encountering them in WK, and have never had a problem with reading them.

I haven’t created a system around this for words I haven’t learned outside WK, but I bet it would work. I’d try making a flash card deck with an image representing the verb (or the English translation if depiction is hard) on the front, and then hiragana, kanji, and audio on the back. You’ll learn the verb as spoken, and then will “just know” the reading when you see it in WK.

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Verb vocabs are some of the hardest items on WK because you won’t get their readings from any other words. The mnemonics for these words usually stick for me because they’re often unique and so convoluted that they stand out. I’ve never seen or heard 企てる used anywhere yet, but there aren’t many other くわだ mnemonics I could confuse myself with.

Apart from the boring “make better mnemonics”, if you know some grammar you could conjugate the verb in different tenses. Sometimes the -masu form is easier for me to remember, for other verbs the -ta form works better. Making actual sentences would work even better I guess, but I can’t really say because I don’t feel confident enough yet to make any.


The fact that I agree with this I think shows a bit of a flaw in the system, but I think it’s a flaw that can’t really be improved. I’m the same way in that verb’s readings only really stick when I go out and see the verb being used in a practical situation. In fact that exact thing happened very recently with 現れる. Was not gonna remember it at all, and then I actually heard it “in the wild” and it works almost like switching where the verb is stored in the brain. There are so many verbs on WK with 1 off readings that I’ve just never seen used, so when I learned them I can’t help but subconsciously catagorize it into the ‘not important information’ catagory, and it only is removed when I legitimately need to use it.

And yeah, the mnemonics for verbs generally really suck because the readings themselves are usually longer than kanji mnemonics so they have to strech more. And the story themselves are usually shortered when they should be longer. Just one example I remember of a mnemonic really sucking is for 加える. For those of you who haven’t reached it or don’t remember it:

You hold a Christmas party every year. This year, instead of just Christmas you have to add other winter holidays to the mix so people don’t get upset. First up? Kwanzaa (くわ).

And that’s it lol. Very random, very loose connection is established between the kanji’s meaning and the story itself, and there’s no further reinforcement from when it’s introducted. Just says Kwanzaa once, better remember it. As a bit of a game, for those who haven’t learned 加える or 加, could you guess what the verb means just from the mnemonic? I don’t think I would be able to.

There’s the inherent challenge of making a mnemonic for a reading that is used in exactly 1 vocab so it’s difficult to do anything to improve it, but yeah. I agree that verbs are easily the hardest part of WK.


Sometimes the mnemonics become insanely easier to make if you use another language. I don’t think there’s much hope for くわ in English except maybe using Qwack and adding ducks, but in Spanish you can use this :

2 + 2 = 4 (くわtro)


This is why I haven’t had too many problems until recently. A lot of the verbs I’ve encountered are verbs that I already knew and so it was ‘oh that’s the kanji for it? That makes so much sense’. But it’s getting more challenging now with completely new verbs.

I was thinking this might be the way to go. Pairing the sentence with a real life sentence/situation where I would use the verb.

I remember that one! I was glad I already knew the verb.

I think this is definitely why it’s so hard. The kanji reading is introduced and then various vocab are introduced using the reading, so there are lots of opportunities to review the reading. But there is only one verb (or sometimes 2 if both transitive and intransitive verbs are taught) and so you only see it during that one word’s review cycle.

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I’m starting to notice the same problem with verbs now
All of them appear at around the same time and somehow my brain goes for か with each one of them.

I have to spend a couple of seconds to remember it and most of the time I get it correct by “instinct”, like I kinda guess it subsconciously.

I should start writing “model sentences” in the mnemonics part to get them to stick in my brain correctly because a lot of the time it sure feels like I’m walking in quicksand.

(I know those aren’t the hardest verbs out there since i’m only level 8 but I should create good habits for those later)


One of the cool things about some of the long kunyomi readings, though, is that they are actually just phrases that have been mashed together, as discussed here.

Of course, some are easier to see than others. 志す (こころざす) coming from 心 and 指す is easier to imagine than what 企てる came from.

The origin of 企てる is from a classical Japanese word くはたつ, where くは meant the arch of your foot (this word doesn’t exist anymore in modern Japanese, and that part of your body is now called the 土踏まず), and たつ is 立つ. Here, the 立つ doesn’t mean that you stand on the arch of your foot; it means that you raise the arch of your foot straight up. In other words, you’re on your tiptoes.

If you’re on your tiptoes, you are usually trying to see farther. This was metaphorically extended to planning. So that’s how we ended up with the verb くわだてる, and it was assigned a single kanji that means “plan.”

Not really all that helpful in the moment someone is learning the word for the first time, but I found researching it to be interesting.


I never realised that! Although now that you mention it, I don’t know how I never figured it out. This could be another technique to help remember these challenging verbs. Rather than trying to apply marginally similar-sounding English words to the reading, create a phrase using the mashed up kunyomi, assuming I know those.

It’s always interesting learning the origin of words and it’s fascinating to gain insight in how people thought long ago.


Oh my god, I imagine you going origin hunting for all WK words… are you really that bored? :wink:


That’s best way to remember something, I was rewatching love live, and the amount of times 当たり前 was said put it in my brain faster than WK in however long it’s been in SRS

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Well, in this case, someone mentioned it here, so I figured it would be appropriate. But I wouldn’t disregard doing it for every word!

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