Wrong radicals in Kanji in WK

Hi there, I started learning with WK… Subscribed for lifetime… And really liked it so far.

There are though some kanjis and their radicals that I question.

I will therefore start a list here that may help everyone with learning and remembering.
I also know that WK makes up some radicals for easy learning… I’m not talkin about these kinds of “wrong radicals”… But obvious mistakes.

So one I found and double checked with different websites:

Level 9 kanji “determine” 定:
WK says: radicals used are roof and correct, but instead of “correct” 正 it should be coat rack 疋.


WaniKani is making mnemonics. Sometimes they bend things to make the mnemonics work, or because a given shape hasn’t been included as a radical yet.

Sometimes they do change things from feedback, but the goal of the site is not to give historically accurate representations of the kanji construction (which, most sites don’t actually do even if they use more “traditional” radicals, to be honest).

EDIT: Though looking at this I’m not sure I’d even consider this a “mistake.” Coat rack has the little hook on the upper stroke. From that perspective, I don’t really see an issue with using either one, if we’re talking about how WaniKani handles things (that is: whatever they think makes the best mnemonic).

It looks like the original shape was 足 and it got simplified over time, anyway. So it wasn’t 正 or 疋.


You’ll see determine enough times that it won’t be an issue.

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I totally get that wk is not trying to provide an etymological correct explanation for kanji… And provides easy ways and mnemonics for the kanji… Hence there are radicals at WK that aren’t considered radicals somewhere else.

But: if WK uses in this case the correct radical for the mnemonic… And you have to remember that later on… I wasn’t able to… Because in the kanji there is no correct radical. That’s what I mean. So in some month… I will sit there… And think… Hnmmmm coat rack and roof… What could it be…

And again… I like their approach… But some things are just not helpful and confusing.
I also know that in the long run some “wrong” kanji won’t make the difference… But nonetheless.
Why not trying to optimize something step by step. You always roll out software and optimize it in a years long process…

I use many of their mnemonics for meaning, almost never for reading as it doesn’t make sense to me or lead to errors on my side. And thats fine.

Good to know! It’s always helpful to know the actual radicals used (for obvious reasons such as writing, looking things up in a dictionary, taking tests, etc.) And there can always be another story/mnemonic told :slight_smile:

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The resource you’re pointing out is not an authority on kanji composition. It’s the kanjdic database, and it contains similarly fabricated constructions as WaniKani (and some of them are pretty strange, imo). It allows for the “search by radical” function on Jisho to work, but it’s largely arbitrary in its own ways. All that data there shows is what they use to represent it in their database, it doesn’t make it more “right” than WaniKani’s choice.

Not trying to say people shouldn’t use Jisho or kanjdic, but it’s worth knowing that they aren’t authoritative and have their own issues.


I think it helps if you only think of mnemonics and radicals as gentle suggestions. I make up my own all the time, mnemonics more than radical composition or meanings but it’s really just a jumping off point to get you thinking outside the box. You might find coat rack easier to incorporate into stories for remembering or maybe your brain just does not want to recognise 正 in this setting. But it might be the other way around for other people, and no one’s really right or wrong in this situation, right? shrug emoji

In a couple of months you shouldn’t be going “ok, what kinds of radicals does this kanji have?”, because that will be painfully slow. At some point you will need to recognize kanji by sight, the radicals are crutches for when, you forget. But determine is so common, you just won’t.


Also good to know! Thanks @Leebo :clinking_glasses:

That’s a totally fair point and I’m aiming of course for this. There are some kanji that I just recognise without even thinking - and then I start sometimes wondering, why I know this and if it’s even right…overthinking :smiley:

But with more than 2000 kanji there will always be some that you forget and you try to remember them with all the weird mnemonics you made up

But as long as it works fine for most of them I’m happy.