What are radicals, kanji, and vocabulary?

There are three types of items on WaniKani: radicals, kanji, and vocabulary.

  • Radicals have a blue background and only ask for one thing: their name.
  • Kanji have a pink background and ask for their reading and meaning, separately.
  • Vocabulary have a purple background and ask for their meaning and reading, separately.

Kanji usually have at least two readings: the on’yomi reading and the kun’yomi reading. Both of them are correct, but we only want the one we taught to you as “the reading.” If you type the kun’yomi reading, but we asked for the other reading, the text box will wiggle and ask you for the on’yomi reading.

Wrong Kanji Reading

This doesn’t count as a wrong answer, and you’ll have a chance to try again. (Try to get it right the next time!)

Unlike kanji, vocabulary only have one correct reading (with a few exceptions). So if you see the purple vocabulary word 生 and type in せい, you will be marked wrong.

Wrong Vocabulary Reading

No wiggle here, because せい is not the vocabulary word for a raw. That’s なま and only なま. It’s important that you pay close attention to what we’re asking for when you start learning, because it minimizes confusion and mistakes later on.