Why do you get second chances on kanji, but not on vocab?

Okay, this had been bugging me for a while.

So you learn a kanji, and then a little while later, you learn a piece of vocab that is just that single kanji alone. They have different readings. If in your reviews you give the vocab answer to the kanji, the screen shakes and it says it wants the other reading (kun? I get them confused).

But when you get the review of the vocab, if you give the kanji reading you get instantly marked wrong. No shaking and second chance.

Why? Can’t it be the same for both? You’re remembering the reading, just the wrong one.

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It’s not wrong to enter a kun’yomi reading instead of the on’yomi, because it still is a reading for that kanji. Kanji usually have more than one reading. But vocab is different, because it’s actually a word, and each kanji in it generally takes a specific reading.

It’s not wrong to say にん or じん or ひと are readings for the kanji 人, because they are. But you can’t read the word 日本人 as にほんひと or にほんにん, it is read にほんじん.


Short answer: Because じょ and おんな are correct readings for the Kanji 女, but the word 女 is only ever pronounced おんな


Each kanji = several different readings (kunyomi = japanese reading // onyomi = chinese reading).

Each vocab = only one reading.

X Kanji can have reading A in Word A and reading B in word B.

WK gives you a 2nd try on the Kanji when you actually gave a correct reading, but not the one they want (they always teach you the most common reading in their perspective through Kanji and the extra readings with vocab).

WK can’t give you a 2nd opportunity with vocab because there’s only 1 way to say it.


I’ve also been wondering for a while.
happens to me a lot because I’m not always set on “ok this one is blue so that’s the VOCAB we’re looking for” and because the color choice doesn’t really stand out for me given my eye condition (think colorblind but different). I often think I’m asked about the kanji but hopefully I have the ignore answer button so most of the time it’s no big deal.


To use an English example, the word ‘read’ can be pronounced multiple ways. If I asked you to pronounce it, and you pronounced it as ‘reed’, I might say “Well yes, I would like the past tense, though.”

On the other hand, if I asked you to say “I read a book yesterday”, then only one pronounciation is correct.

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But its sooooo hard remembering which is which :frowning:

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I’ll repost this, which gives an English equivalent:

Wanikani: How do you pronounce the letter ‘C’?
You: “s” (as in certain)
Wanikani: We’re looking for the other pronunciation (“k” as in captain)

Wanikani: How do you pronounce the word “CAT”:
You: “sat”
Wanikani: Sorry, that’s wrong.


Just get it wrong a few times, you’ll sooner or later remember.

Also, it gets easier the further you go, so don’t worry too much about it

I think I’m just really struggling with the whole kun versus on thing. I’ve read the Tofugu article 4 times and it’s still not sticking.

Someone told me that the easiest way to remember is that one reading is for kanji with hiragana added, the other is for kanji with other kanji or alone, but I swear there’s so many examples where that’s not true.

It’s hard because you thought they were all the same. Your brain wasn’t making a distinction. Now that you know how everything works, you’ll see yourself learning them in no time :slight_smile:


Yes, there are a lot of exceptions. This is more of a guideline than a rule, something to start from.

But even the exceptions become somewhat predictable with experience.

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In that case I need to repost my meme too

Wanikani: How do you pronounce the letter ‘G’?
You: “j” (as in gif)
Wanikani: We’re looking for the other pronunciation (“G” as in GOD DAMNIT)

Wanikani: How do you pronounce “DOG”?
You: “Doj”
Wanikani: image


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