Start Learning Japanese in the next 30 Seconds with
a Free Lifetime Account

Or sign up using Facebook

Vocabulary Problems. :(

Moderators: Moderator Team, Admin Team

New in Town
Posts: 5
Joined: July 6th, 2015 1:37 pm

Vocabulary Problems. :(

Postby heather_506731 » July 7th, 2015 8:16 pm

Hello Everyone

I posted this question in one of the lessons, but I think I might get it answered here a little faster. I started yesterday and I'm super super new at this. My issue is that right now I'm stuck on memorizing Hiragana (almost done). Then I'll be moving on to Katakana, and finaley Kanji...Am I doing this right? Do I have to learn all these alphabets or should I just jump into Kanji? Also for the vocabulary, should I study it in Hiragana, Kanji, or both? I'm kind of lost and confused and any help would be very much appreciated.

Thank you for any help you can offer!
-Heather :D

Been Around a Bit
Posts: 21
Joined: February 12th, 2015 9:05 am

Re: Vocabulary Problems. :(

Postby ninjalin888 » July 8th, 2015 8:06 am


Hi Heather

You are correct in learning Hiragana and Katakana first before looking at Kanji. You will need the Hiragana alphabet as the foundation if you are a new to the language. Katakana will be easy to learn once you have memorised Hiragana.

Jumping straight to Kanji without the Hiragana may make it difficult for you. Kanji in a sense isn't an alphabet. There are thousands and thousands of characters which would be difficult to memorise on its own and therefore should be learned as you go along rather than trying to memorise.
Especially as Kanji characters may have different pronunciations depending on the word it forms part of.

Personally I think for the vocabulary it would be best to study the words in both Kanji and Hiragana.
In Kanji - because reading material is less likely to be found in just only Hiragana.
In Hiragana - so that you know how to pronounce the word. But also because some words are written in Hiragana even if they have a version with Kanji (But I think that is preference of the writer).

As you learn you will find that having the Kanji makes it easier to read the Japanese101 pdf lessons among other things etc than if it was all in Hiragana. This is because there are no spaces between each Hiragana spelt word unlike English, so the Kanji included makes it easier to distinguish between each word.

I've probably made that a bit more complicated than it really is…. I'm sorry! Hope someone else could follow up. :oops:


Get 40% OFF
Been Around a Bit
Posts: 40
Joined: May 4th, 2014 12:06 pm

Re: Vocabulary Problems. :(

Postby Murius » July 8th, 2015 4:13 pm

Hi Heather,

You just can't read Japanese unless you learn both alphabets so you had better get it done and out the way as soon as possible. As to the ratio of kanji / hiragana, you can follow the jlpt lists (N5 being the easiest). Each has a set number of words for which you only need learn the pronunciation (so you should be able to write them in hiragana) and a set number of kanji. I also found this book very useful (as a matter of fact I still use it regularly):

It's a thankless task but well worth it if you can hang on. My advice is do it at your own rhythm, but make sure you do it regularly, and you will eventually get there.

Good luck!

Been Around a Bit
Posts: 22
Joined: November 15th, 2014 7:18 pm

Re: Vocabulary Problems. :(

Postby danparvus_502651 » July 9th, 2015 7:00 pm

I have completed Newbie seasons 1 through 5 and Absolute Beginner seasons 1 and 2. I've been using the flashcard functionality at the same time throughout it all. I tallied the vocab (there is a lot of repetition of words between seasons) to total around 670 words with maybe 400 having Kanji. Not all Japanese words have Kanji by the way. I've been focusing mostly on listening comprehension to start with a well as memorizing the hiragana and katakana. Now I'm focusing on memorizing the Kanji. It isn't very easy, but I'm making progress. I would say I can comprehend verbally all 670 words, but I can ready maybe only 70 or so Kanji. This boils down to reading, reading, reading. :)


Expert on Something
Posts: 2704
Joined: November 16th, 2012 8:54 am

Re: Vocabulary Problems. :(

Postby community.japanese » July 10th, 2015 9:46 am

ninjalin888 san, Murius san, san,
Thank you for helping Heather san. :D

Heather san,
I recommend you to focus on hiragana at first.
Then you can move on to katakana.
Finally you can learn kanji.
If you still have questions, please feel free to ask us. :)

Yuki 由紀

Return to “Learn All About Japanese”