Why do you fail single Kanji vocabulary words if you put in the kanji reading?

It’s not unusual to see onyomi readings for stanalone kanji in set expressions. The other day I came across 業を煮やす (ごうをにやす) on a Kanken test.


Yes I encountered them many times. I suspect they are compound words :sweat_smile:
Here’s another example:

@quollism @konekush That’s a lot more information than I could have ever hoped to get back lol. Really awesome. Thanks for the correction and additional learning. On a somewhat related note, I’ve potentially been pronouncing one of my student’s names incorrectly. Her name is ひづき. No one has said anything about it to me. Then again, I work with a teacher who pronounces the girl’s name あおい like most weebs would yaoi, and they don’t say anything to her either.


Might be discretion/politeness, might be an acceptable variation, hard to say!

I totally heard this watching Rilakkuma the other day! WK’s recording sounds like -zu and Forvo’s recordings of みず all sound like -zu to me as well. It is a mystery!

No I am talking about roman characters for Japanese words.

I have notices in all texts particularly countries that use UK English words like みず 水 are spelled mizu where as for some strange reason American texts and courses spell it midzu.

Studied Japanese in America.

That’s not the case.

At least not now, and at least not in a widespread sense. Whether it was true at some point, or in a small number of texts or not.

The only thing I can think of is that the plant, クズ, is called kudzu in America. That has become the accepted spelling for the word in English, as a loanword. But it wouldn’t be how you write it in romaji in a Japanese class that uses hepburn romanization.

EDIT: Just checked and hepburn romanization used to use dzu for ず, but no longer does.


I don’t think it’s a very useful part of the learning process, thought; it’s training you to respond quickly to color cues, which isn’t really an aspect of Japanese reading comprehension. I’ve known the reading くるま for 車 for much longer than I’ve known しゃ, and know it is more commonly used when appearing outside of compounds, but I still have trouble thinking of it as “the purple one”.

There are other vocab that I have real problems remembering, such as 外交 and 外れる, and I don’t mind repeating those until my fingers bleed.

I agree with others that using an ‘ignore’ script probably isn’t the right way to go here, because the distinction between kanji readings and vocabulary is significant and you shouldn’t skip that fact. Rather, I would like the screen to shake and tell me I’ve answered the wrong question, similar to when you provide the “wrong” reading of the kanji.

Alternatively, something that allows us to change the layout of the different exercises, so that we can for example make the vocab words look more like ordinary written text.
The best thing would perhaps be to use one of the context sentences with the question “How is 車 pronounced in this sentence?”. There is the issue that some context sentences use both readings of the kanji, but I think this would still be a much stronger cue.

Luckily you should know that one if you know 外れ :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

1 Like

While I know that you’re joking, I actually do have an easier time with 外れ than 外れる :stuck_out_tongue:

It’s as though I know in my heart that there’s supposed to be an u-sound in there, but with 外れる, that condition is already fulfilled by the final る, so はぜれる [sic] still works for me.


外れ is just the verb stem/masu stem (=noun) of 外れる though :thinking:

1 Like

If you haven’t done any grammar yet, it’s worth pointing out that 外れ is simply the stem and noun version of the verb 外れる.

ETA jinxed! :V

1 Like

To be fair, this isn’t taught in Genki, so I didnt come across it by studying grammar either :sweat_smile:

@Kutsushokunin some more examples, doesn’t matter if you care or not :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:


There are plenty more of those and also things like “adjective → adverb” and “verb → negative verb”, looking out for those makes learning vocab alot easier.

1 Like

Oh, definitely. I understand the principle, and it is perfectly reasonable; it’s just the fact that when I see 外れ I can start typing immediately, whereas with 外れる I have to stop and think.

Kind of like writing a word backwards; the principle is incredibly simple, but it doesn’t come to mind immediately.

Or, to use an example Tofugu likes to bring up: They teach us the numbers and days of the week out of order, because they want us to know them individually, rather than going through them in sequence (“Friday? That’s easy, it’s 月曜日, 火曜日, 水曜日, 木曜日 金曜日!”)

Edit: This is actually kind of related to the vocab/reading problem: The reasoning “Readings for magenta, vocabulary for purple.” is very simple, but – at least for me – it isn’t immediate.

That may say something about some aspect of my intelligence, but that’s mot what I use WaniKani for :wink:

1 Like

That’s super useful. I had French in school and if I want to know 7 or Wednesday I always have to go through the sequence. Granted, if I actually spoke French regularly, that would probably go away eventually, but it’s better to learn them properly from the beginning.


Haha that reminds me I go through that same sequence with Japanese… via French, Roman mythology and chemistry/astronomy:

  • Tuesday ➞ mardi ➞ Mars, God of Fire ➞ 火曜日
  • Wednesday ➞ mercredi ➞ Mercury ➞ liquid stuff ➞ 水曜日
  • Thursday ➞ jeudi ➞ Jupiter ➞ planet looks like it has wood grains ➞ 木曜日
  • Friday ➞ vendredi ➞ Venus ➞ sparkly planet ➞ 金曜日
  • Saturday ➞ Saturn ➞ sand-coloured planet ➞ 土曜日

I am… not proud of this. :slight_smile:


For the longest time, not only did I have to go through the French days of the week in order, but I had to do it fairly slowly and with some really exaggerated stress patterns and elongated syllables, the way we went used to recite it in class:

Luuuundi, maaaardi, meercredi, jeeeeudi, veendredi, sammmm’di, dimanche!

I did eventually learn to do it faster, but the “melody” remained.


I look at blue and red/pink as learning tools and then think of purple as real world. If you’re having problems remembering what the reading is / could possibly be, I don’t see how the colors have any impact on that.

If you happen to know both readings but don’t know which one to choose, the typical rule is if there’s hiragana or the kanji is by itself, use the kun reading. The exception to that would be する verbs.

Anytime in real life, just think its always the “purple one”. There’s no need to distinguish between the other two.

1 Like

The colors don’t make it more difficult, but they also don’t help much. If I sit back and think about it, it’s easy to make the distinction, but when I’m doing my reviews I try to be quick.

I’d compare it to reading these two texts:

.emit gnol a sekat llits ti gnidaer tub ,dnatsrednu ot ysae yrev si elpicnirp ehT .redro esrever ni era srettel eht ,txet eht fo noisrev siht nI

In this version of the text, the letters are in reverse order. The principle is very easy to understand, but reading it still takes a long time.

In tihs vreison of the txet, the mldide lrtetes are jmulbed but the frist and lsat ltreets are in the smae palce. The pnlripice is mroe colpemx, but it is slitl eseiar for yuor mnid to dhieepcr.

In this version of the text, the middle letters are jumbled but the first and last letters are in the same place. The principle is more complex, but it is still easier for your mind to decipher.

I’m saying that to me, the pink/purple distinction feels like the backwards text: It’s a very simple principle, but it doesn’t register with me immediately; quite often, by the time I stop and think “Oh, look, a purple background.”, it’s too late.

It’s not a huge problem, but it is frustrating.

I struggled a bit with the color coding a bit when I first started, by the time I hit level 10, my brain was very attuned to the cues.


I can’t relate, but I think the higher level you get, the higher frequency the vocab will be with multiple kanji and/or hiragana instead of a single kanji so you know that has to be vocab.

Out of curiosity, do you have similar problems with the radicals when they’re the complete Kanji?

I like to go through my reviews quickly as well, and one thing I still do is type the reading in when its asking for meaning and feel pretty dumb about it lol :smiley:

1 Like