Why have Katakana option if the answer will not be accepted

Hi there, I have done a search and read some threads but nothing seemed conclusive.
I found out that if I press CAPSLOCK when typing a reading, the result will come out in Katakana. And I see that there is a point of contention on which kana to use when writing ON’YOMI readings. I am sure that the Katakana answers are not being accepted because I tried it twice, double-checked with Jisho and my answer matched.

So question:
Am I missing something?

Second question:
If what I am saying is pretty much how it is, then why is Katakana even an option on the site???

Note: I do use the Japanese IME input when typing anywhere else, but I keep it in ‘ENG’ for the site and let it do it’s thing.

Thanks, sorry if this has been answered 万 times!

For readings on the kanji page, you are only supposed to type in Hiragana, i.e. without Caps Lock.

For some vocabulary, katakana is used as part of the vocab word. Like in アメリカ人 for example.

The whole, On’yomi uses Katakana and Kun’yomi use Hiragana is a tool used to distinguish the two in dictionaries. WaniKani just happens not to do that.

Edit: Also, katakana is pretty much optional as far as typing wise goes. You do have to know Katakana in order to read the vocab, but you can just type in the answer in Hiragana and not bother. (would not recommend it though)


Yeah, the use of different kana for on and kun is a dictionary convention that allows dictionaries to not have to label the readings, thus saving space. That’s all. There’s nothing in the real world that says anyone should use katakana to represent onyomi outside of that dictionary convention.

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Thanks Guys, that was very helpful.
I suspected as much, but it is good to hear that from more seasoned Wanikanese people such as yourselves.


I think it won’t accept them because you can’t replace the kanji with katakana in written Japanese. If you think about whether you would be able to replace the kanji with katakana or hiragana in an actual sentence and have it make sense, you should be able to see why, or why not, katakana will be, or won’t be, accepted.

Well, at the same time, there’s nothing that says you can’t use katakana for words if you want to, so I would be fine with WK accepting katakana. But generally it’s not random, of course.

Animal and plant names are often written in katakana, even when the words have kanji, even kanji that basically all Japanese people know. For instance, アリ instead of 蟻.

Beyond that, many words get put into katakana on a regular basis just because it’s culturally normal to do so, like スキ, キレイ, キミ, etc. Of course, these are also seen in hiragana and kanji, but no one will bat an eye at them being written in katakana.

And then there’s the use of katakana for emphasis, weirdness, or to represent “foreign accent”.

So yeah, if you have a reason for doing so, it’s usually okay to write things in katakana. But that reason is important.


The IME script that Wanikani uses is what handles this. Some words, like アメリカ人, mentioned above, will accept both.

There are also user-scripts, written by other WK users, that handle conversion of on’yomi/katakana for you, if that’s something you want.

Interesting fl0rm, I didn’t know there was a script. Thanks!

That’s a fair point. I find it actually helps me keep the readings distinct in my mind (at least for now). I am talking exclusively about Kanji and not vocab though.
I supplement Wani Kani with other resources. I ordered Flashcards from White Rabbit Press. Those cards and Jisho.org seem pretty legit and show ON readings in Katakana.

The way you say it (e.g. pretty legit) makes it sound like we’re doubting you that dictionaries use katakana to represent onyomi when displaying kanji information.

It’s just that there’s no reason for you, a person not making a dictionary, to think of onyomi readings as being katakana.

i’m a fan of this script.

personally, i’m allergic to shift and capslock, so katakana coming out when it’s not supposed to isn’t a problem for me, but i appreciate the visual cue for which type of reading i’m being taught for each kanji. (and the script puts you on auto-capslock when answering for kanji whose on’yomis are expected.)


Thanks! Much appreciated.

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No I’m not doubting you, my response was to Keith (sorry not sure how to properly nest it, so it’s confusing). I agree with what you said on your initial post, it made a lot of sense.
But saying there is no reason for me to use it since I’m not writing a dictionary doesn’t make sense to me. The dictionaries are meant to be accessible for personal learning, it’s not so esoteric.

I have my answer so I won’t beat a dead horse.

You can have a personal reason to want to enter them in katakana, I guess. But that would just be your preference, and not something to do with how Japanese works.

But to me it’s like someone picking up an English dictionary and seeing stress marks and that dot that tells you where you can break words up for line breaks and wanting to enter those in their flashcards. They’re in the dictionary for a reason, but you don’t have to preserve that in other forms.


You could if you wanted to, it’s not normal, but there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with it, just like THIS IS STILL OKAY.

Also, before the war Katakana was used much how Hiragana is today.

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