What do you consider you know something?

I was just curious of people’s opinions on when they feel they actually remembered something. When you see a kanji/vocab, what makes you decide to mark it as a correct answer (or override it as wrong)? Do you consider you know something if you have to stare at it for a couple of minutes to remember the meaning and/or reading?

I feel like for me sometimes I can figure out a kanji by staring at it for a while and then remembering the meaning or getting a really lucky educated guess. But, I tend to myself want to mark it wrong if I can’t recognize it in a few seconds. This is something I’ve started doing recently as I now live in Japan and having to for instance stare at a menu for 10-30mins to think through the vocab feels very ineffective. Also in class our reading assignments are timed, so I feel like I don’t have the time to stare forever at the documents.


On those Enlightened items where I got lucky, I just accept that it’s burned and I will just need to run into it again in my reading.

If I can’t answer it right away, I don’t know it, or at least not well enough that if I was reading the meaning would come to me easily. Those ones I need to look at harder I either hit IDK or give an educated guess and miss or pass. The guilt that comes with passing on a guess makes its stick so I don’t worry about it so much as its gonna come up again and I will either remember it or wont. That’s the role of the SRS.

My suggestion would be to start reading books, manga, graded readers, etc. because you don’t really know what you know until you have to see it and use your knowledge in the wild.

I see where the confusion is in that I should “know” all these words I passed in WK, but the reality is those arent in my active recall yet.


That’s a good question!

When it comes to Wanikani or my Anki decks, I never override it as wrong, even if it takes me a long time to come up with the correct answer (or I have a lucky guess). I think of these as kind of a “first look” at vocab and kanji but I don’t feel like I am really testing my knowledge in a useful way until I’m using it in my own text messages or understanding it in the context of news articles or manga (or, like you mentioned, recognizing it on a menu in a timely manner).

It happens a lot that I “know” a kanji on Wanikani, but I don’t recognize it in actual reading materials. Then after I look it up, I’m like “man, I knew that!”, but what I really mean is “I’ve studied that, so I should know that!” Ha.

Alternatively, sometimes I’m looking at kanji/vocab on WK and I know the reading and how it’s used but I can’t remember the wording that would make it correct on this website (looking at you 判子 and 猫舌).


It’s very easy to fall into the trap of override abuse. Many have felt the need to reset after relying too much on that script, realizing they just don’t know the items well enough at the end of the day.

It might help to remind oneself that this isn’t a speed race and you won’t get a medal for completing WK either. Getting to lv 60 doesn’t prove you know anything really.

Only yourself, knowing you’ve put that effort into it, can feel a sense of having accomplished something at the end of the day, if you keep using this app. Meaning, you can never have too many repetitions of information you try to learn and make a deeper connection to. Letting the answer marked wrong is the best option, even if it’s a typo.

if you make too many typos, try to just type slower and learn to quickly check your answer before pressing enter. You don’t really have to go much slower, just a fraction more, to make a big difference when it comes to mistakes like that.


Probably slowly staring and educated guess aren’t so bad; though eventually you might want to react faster. It depends on your goals after all.

You might also notice that Kanji can be used to build non-Wanikani vocabularies, so guessing vocabularies seen the first time correctly, might also be a goal.

Just be aware that meaning comes from adaptation to various examples, rather than English glosses.

Reading skill is yet another thing. Perhaps if you can listen, and you can also properly read-aloud the materials (knowing the reading of vocabularies); understanding would come naturally.


If it’s in an early review stage (including Guru) I’ll pass an item even if I have to think for a while. When items are getting into the Enlightened and Burned stages I sometimes override them as failed even after answering correctly if I had to think for too long and felt too uncertain about my answer. But I’ll also sometimes override an answer as correct if my immediate intuition was correct but I then second guessed myself and gave a low confidence incorrect answer…


For me it’s absolutely clear: You really only know a Kanji if you recognize it in a fraction of a second.

For reviews, also burn reviews, it’s ok if it takes longer, but to ACTUALLY know it? You have to recognize it fast. Really fast.


I did the same of you and I think that a mindful approach is enough to make it work, just don’t stress too much over it…
Anyway lately I’ve been doing differently. I’m using an app that allows me to get completely rid of typing, and allows me to mark items as correct or wrong.
I’m trying to reduce the link between the kanji/vocab and the english translation as much as I can, and solely focus on the meaning and not the translation. So I will rush through reviews, and if I know the meaning (and reading ofc) instinctively I will mark it as correct. If not, I will try to remember the mnemonic but without too much effort, and if it takes too long I will just mark it as incorrect and read the meaning-reading mnemonics again.

This has been working great so far and allows me to spend less time on those long review sessions


I totally get what you mean mariodesu. Even though I am an English language native, sometimes the kanji answer is written in unnatural English and I would never have thought of it, but I subconsciously understand the meaning. What app are you using for wrong or right answers? :question:


I suggest you an awesome app that works great on iphone and I think also on samsung (on the last one there are some alternatives I haven’t tried tho)

The app is Tsurukame! You can customize it in a thousand ways :grin:


I feel that something I’ve had to drag up from deep memory and get right is a learning moment, and what I’d want to do is see it again relatively soon to embed it properly.

This is true also when I see a kanji like 故 and know it’s こ because of the 古 radical but not because I sight read it.

So if the SRS will show it to me soon I’d accept it as correct. Otherwise not.

[ this is in part (maybe 3rd on the list) why I stopped WK, because I think I have a better feel for when I need to see something again than the machine, but that’s by-the-by ]


Doing this is fine, but be very careful you don’t stray in the direction of “I almost got it, so that’s good enough”.

Things like, if you get the self-move / other-move wrong, or think ろ rather than る, etc, that should not be good enough to mark as correct.

Don’t take this the wrong way - I’m not saying you are doing anything wrong - but anyone that takes this approach must be self disciplined enough to do it right, or they are going to waste a lot of time not learning anything…


Strongly agree… and yes I’m very cautious, also with (in/)transitivity of verbs and other “small details”. Luckily I know how to self regulate

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Thank you for your comment. I think you read my comment opposite of what I intended. I don’t tend to override things as correct. I override them as incorrect when I don’t feel I know it strongly.

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So are you saying these are your habits then? What I was trying to learn is what other people actually do.

This is kind of how I feel as far as being able to apply the knowledge. It’s what makes it frustrating though as this is definitely a much harder goal to achieve.

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When I was doing Bunpro grammar early on I did this a lot, the whole marking something right wrong thing. There were a lot of situations where a question might have multiple right answers or say I could remember one form and not another for a specific point. Anytime I was unhappy I would mark something wrong because I’d want to review it again in the future anyway. I don’t think it’s bad to mark something wrong because you know you have trouble with it, buuuut…

After getting more active in reading I don’t see it as worthwhile. SRS kind of fills in the gaps and doesn’t cover a lot of natural use cases. There’s a lot of “I should know that moments” that will come up seeing something in the wild. I still think there’s a lot of benefit for that kind of spartan SRS studying, but it’ll be more like how someone in their native language needs flashcards for domain specific knowledge and so on. Things that you see maybe once in an entire book.


They are what I noticed, when looking up doesn’t worth it.

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Yeah I’ve been trying to keep like a 5-10 second limit on myself. If I don’t know it in 5-10 seconds I assume I don’t know it well enough. At least that’s what I’m trying currently.


Ah, I get you.

As much as it might feel like the right thing to do, to sort of second guess the system for having marked you right in the first place, I don’t think that’s a good way to spend your time. It’s easy to want to be perfect, the remember everything super well. But, it’s just not possible to go through all the thousands of items WK teach and remember every single one of them just as well. You will forget some of them after you’ve burnt them. That’s just a fact.

But, there is little reason to worry about it. You’ll encounter those items again down the line, and will have a much better change of memorizing them properly then.

So, rather than redoing the same items you’ve already shown you can answer correctly for, focus on just moving on and learn new items. That’s my tip. It’s just not studying time well spent.