WK should do something to help with transitivity

Surely there is a large volume of statistics showing that WK users struggle with transitivity pairs to a disproportionate degree. From an outside perspective, this is evidenced by the large volume of posts about this topic. Meanwhile, I’ve seen some posts such as this one which explain that there are in fact some fairly reliable rules about how transitivity pairs work: The Definitive Guide to WaniKani's Transitivity Pairs

So… if we know that these pairs are an ongoing, frustrating problem for learners, and we know that there are some rules which can help with figuring out whether the vocab word is transitive vs intransitive, why does WK do nothing at all to help convey the information about these helpful rules? Instead we get a mnemonic which is specific to that particular reading and lacks broad applicability. And that’s the best case scenario - many verb lessons have no mnemonic or other guidelines at all to help identify transitivity.

Why doesn’t WK do anything to help? For example, when teaching a verb pair, have a highlight section which shows the other half of the pair. Then display a snippet describing the rule for this pair.


yes, please god. it’s a constant struggle with the nonsense that is transitivity pairs, and I feel sometimes that wanikani has been actively refusing to provide any real useful help.

There are rules that work for a LARGE majority of cases in the post you mentioned, and I have no idea why they aren’t mentioned anywhere. If the choice is between guessing whether something is transitive or intransitive(which is a 50%ish chance), and a simple rule that works 60% of the time, then I’ll take the rule, even if there are exceptions.

Sure, ultimately you’ll probably memorize the verb pairs better if you’re conjugating them and using them, but rules that have very few exceptions on such a very frustrating subject should REALLY be presented to users somewhere.

Just have a little blurb somewhere that’s like, “because of XYZ, this verb is likely transitive”. Make it a hyperlink that links to a blog post or something with a more thorough explanation of the rules(and then mention that there are exceptions). I know I’ve sometimes seen, “this verb is intransitive, like so many verbs that end in ‘ru’”, but that’s NOT enough.

Not necessarily specific to this, but I thought maybe it might be helpful if, when failing a review, WaniKani automatically displayed an example sentence with both English and Japanese just below to show the item in context.

Yes, something like “here’s a list of general rules” then “because this ends in れる it is likely intransitive…” for most things would be great

I would also love any exceptions to have specific mnemonics for transitive/intransitiveness but that’s probably asking for too much…

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WaniKani is simply not the good tool to teach that. Memorizing pairs of words like this in the abstract is just too frustrating. I always use an undo script to pass a review if I fail only due to the wrong transitivity.

After all WaniKani focuses mainly on recognition, not production. It’s about learning to read Japanese first and foremost. In context while reading Japanese transitivity is almost never an issue in my experience. I know that because I get transitivity wrong in reviews all the time, yet it basically never comes up when I read actual Japanese.

And as you get exposed to these words repeatedly in meaningful context you end up organically committing them to memory. You stop thinking of these words as “pairs”, you think of them as words on their own with their own meaning. I know what 上げる means, and I know what 上がる means, and I don’t need to relate one to the other in order to understand the difference.

If producing the language is important for you it may be a bit different, but if that’s the case you need other resources than WaniKani to practice anyway and beyond that I suspect that, once again, in context people will be able to piece together what you’re trying to say even if you use the wrong transitivity in most cases.

Frankly in my opinion there’s so much to learn to reach a decent level of Japanese that it’s not worth obsessing about these (IMO) minor details early on.


Absolutely - they’re used in different ways, so recognising which is which is never a problem. Treat them as different words and learn them as such. In sentences where their meaning is clear.

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