Why are katakana readings being rejected?

So I’ve just started with the kanji learning on WK and, naturally, type my “reading” answers in romaji - which gets converted to kana.
Force of habit, though - I capitalize the first letter. This turns the first kana into katakana and the rest into hiragana.
Which gets the reading marked incorrect.

Now, I understand that I’d have to get rid of this habit eventually as I’ll be typing japanese a lot in my future and, consequentially, staying more on the japanese keyboard layout with its fascinating press-space-to-transform thing, but I’d like to know -

Is this intentional? If so, what is the reasoning? (AFAIK hiragana じゅ is read the same as katakana ジュ)

While the pronunciations may sound identical, hiragana and katakana are two separate syllabaries and they are separate for a reason. They are not interchangeable. Therefore, if you type an answer in katakana (or partial katakana as it sounds like that’s how you’re describing it) when it’s expecting hiragana (because that’s the way the word is written), your answer is incorrect.

TLDR; just because they sound the same doesn’t mean they are the same. You’ll need to learn when it’s appropriate to use which syllabary.


That only answers the “is this intentional” part of my question and not the “why”. They are not the same - I know - but if they sound the same and we’re talking about readings (which AFAIK are sounds) then the difference appears irrelevant.

Don’t just say “for a reason”. That’s painfully unsatisfying. Please, provide the reason.

It does also answer the why. If you are typing a word in katakana that’s supposed to be written in hiragana, your answer is incorrect.

Maybe someone else can explain it better.


Does this only happen when you’re mixing them together? WK accepts hiragana for katakana words, so you’d think it wouldn’t matter much. It’s probably just that they didn’t expect you to try to combine them.

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While they may be able to be switched between, that doesn’t mean they should be switched between. There are some Japanese origin words that are normally wrote in katakana, it’s also used for emphasis (sort of like using italics in English) and scientific words. You can even find in older games that everything was written in katakana, though this was mostly due to limitations in memory.

So why doesn’t Wanikani let you use them interchangeably? Only the developers could know for sure but I would suspect it was deemed unnecessary. You’ve stated yourself that you are only doing it due to bad Japanese typing habits, so why would WK wish to support a habit that you are going to have to overcome in the future? That said it does support the bad habit of typing hiragana instead of katakana, which I am thankful for (yay laziness) but it probably shouldn’t.

WaniKani adds synonyms for all the katakana words to include the hiragana versions (probably so people never have to type in katakana if they don’t want to). As far as I know, no hiragana words will accept katakana.

This used to happen to me. Yeah, caps for some reason translate as katakana and can get your answers marked wrong. In my experience so far there has never been a need for katakana in WaniKani, so I don’t know why it might even be accessible. It would be better if no matter how you wrote your answer, it always converted into hiragana.

That said, it’s as simple as not using uppercase letters anymore. I know it’s a bother, cause you’re just used to it, but you’ll get used to typing everythig in lowercase super soon. If it truly bothers you, send an email to hello@wanikani but, to be honest, even if they decided to change it, it would take a while. Just get used to lowercase typing here on WK and you’ll be fine :wink:

I think the way wanikani set up their built in IME was to make it as convenient for people as possible.

English question - auto type with the roman alphabet
Japanese question - auto type in hiragana

No toggling keyboards or using caps or anything, it just works. I think this is the reason why they accept hiragana answers for katakana words too, just because it is quicker and easier than having to switch to katakana.

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Though they sound the same it would be like writing eNGLIsh words with random caps. Yes, we can read the sound of it, but it is still not written correctly :wink:
There are rules to what word is written what way, though as mentioned katakana can be used as emphasis. But no pure hirgana word would be written half and half like that, so would always be misspelled.

Hope this answers your question. And if you struggle braking the habit there are scripts to let you mark answers as correct if you know you just typed it wrong (which is extremely useful even if you manage to stop doing this, as spelling errors happens a lot)

List of all user scripts: https://community.wanikani.com/t/The-New-And-Improved-List-Of-API-and-Third-Party-Apps/7694

  1. Japanese children learn hiragana before katakana.
  2. Furigana almost always uses hiragana.
  3. Katakana is mostly used for foreign words, majority of the kanji/vocab in this system are not foreign (and ones that are accept katakana).
  4. In books aimed at children hiragana would be used for japanese words (see reason 1).
  5. Because they felt like it.

I’m sure there are other reasons.


In some IMEs, it is painfully difficult to type Katakana. (For example, the one built into the Android app I use doesn’t support katakana)

Love this. Guy comes on, level 1, clueless about hiragana vs. katakana and then is rude to people providing answers. I’ll never understand why people think they can start from basically scratch on this particular site and learn Japanese…


They are not the same, but they sound the same and I can read them. So the difference appears irrelevant. However, it’s not the correct spelling (which is a subject under language/grammar).

It may sound the same, but it doesn’t mean it’s the correct spelling. A katakana character may have the same sound as a hiragana or kanji character, but they are not the same- katakana is specifically used for words that are non-Japanese in origin. And so using the katakana lettering/character system to interchange with hiragana would make it incorrect.

Also, it’s best not to get into the bad habit of using katakana instead of hiragana like this as you’re learning a new language. It will be quite difficult to break later on if you become used to it.

You wouldn’t tell a person learning English, or an elementary student learning spelling that it’s okay to use K instead of C when spelling cat because they sound the same.

I’ve seen books in the past that had katakana for the onyomi readings, and I think they sometimes use katakana with Japanese origin words for emphasis (similar to cursive). I thought they also use katakana for some vegetables (and fruits?) and animal names that are also Japanese in origin, but not 100% sure on that one. It might also be a stylistic thing I guess.

But, yeah, wouldn’t be something you use with most vocabulary words. I can see why some people would be confused about onyomi readings not allowing it (but it doesn’t seem to be the case for the OP, if they’re doing part in hiragana and part in katakana).

You can use katakana for non-loanwords if the context is appropriate. For instance, I see ステキ now and then when people are texting. It’s a style choice. バカ is commonly katakana too.

It is also possible to write “usually written in Katakana” in hiragana. This is also style’s choice.

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