Japanese : ideas how to manage similar verbs and homonyms

kokrhac's Avatar


17 Jul, 2014 11:55 AM


During my studies of Japanese I meet more and more the problem of homonyms. And yet haven't found any effective way how to deal with them. To describe the problem I give an example.

In case of verb, I generate three cards. 1st question in kana, 2nd in kanji and third in Czech. Whenever I met two verbs with same kana in jisho form I write in kana field something like きる 【切る】 and pause the kana card. With verbs which have kanji (or rather is usually written in kanji) this system is fine for me.

However with verbs like ふる (denied) nad 降る like in 雨が降る, this is insufficient.

I will appreciate any ideas and suggestions how you are dealing with these problems. Not only simple flash cards, but if you have another way how you are fighting this Japanese Thing ;] please 教えてください ;)


  1. 1 Posted by jlownie on 28 Jul, 2014 05:38 AM

    jlownie's Avatar

    I personally only structure my cards with the meaning of the word being the question, and the word itself being the answer. In the case of kanji study, the kana is the question and the kanji is the answer. If I have multiple kanji for a given kana, then I add the meaning of the kana (and write it in kana too) so that the question is unambiguous.

    IMHO learning to differentiate between homonyms is best done through listening and reading practice. So when you hear a word you figure out the meaning based more on contextual associations rather than remembering all possible meanings.

    I haven't been able to learn homonyms through memory practice.

  2. 2 Posted by kokrhac on 29 Jul, 2014 09:16 AM

    kokrhac's Avatar

    Thanx for ideas. With the homonyms you are probably right. I always fight with the fact that reading is still very difficult for me because both grammar and vocabulary. But at the same time the I know to much words that the problem with homonyms come up more and more often. But still this fight is pleasure ;] Thus thanks again. I'll think about it

  3. 3 Posted by matthew.terence... on 03 Nov, 2015 03:15 AM

    matthew.terence.hayes's Avatar

    Here was the approach I followed, in case it is useful for you.

    There once was a time when I couldn't read any Kanji. So I chose to have the question side be the Kanji with furigana and the answer side be the same thing plus the English meaning. I mostly paid attention to the furigana to figure out the meaning, but I used the Kanji to help disambiguate the meaning when there were multiple words pronounced the same. This generally worked well because I knew some of the meanings from the Heisig method, or figured them out through practice.

    At this point I had about 4000 vocab flash cards, and I knew the vocab fairly well (>90% retention).

    Then once I made it through all of the Kanji meanings in Heisig, I generated new flash cards where the question side did not have furigana. I found that because I already knew the vocab and knew the meanings (for the most part) that I was able to relearn the vocab extremely quickly with ease (about 100 new cards per day).

    I then suspended all the cards that had furigana. Now for new material I start with Kanji and no furigana.

    So getting back to your questions, I basically used the Kanji to help disambiguate when I wasn't good enough at them to learn from Kanji alone. Now that I know the Kanji I don't study from Kana at all. I'm not sure how useful it is in general to go from Kana to Meaning when you are already learning the Kanji. It just seems like creating more work for yourself. I suppose if your goal is to be able to write then it could be useful. My primary goal is being able to read though, so I optimize for that.

    There are some cases where a Kanji isn't traditionally used for a word (e.g. きれいな). Here I'll usually just use the Kana.

  4. System closed this discussion on 23 Feb, 2016 12:10 AM.

  5. Damien Elmes re-opened this discussion on 23 Feb, 2016 10:50 PM

Comments are closed, but you can start a new discussion.

Keyboard shortcuts


? Show this help
ESC Blurs the current field

Comment Form

r Focus the comment reply box
^ + ↩ Submit the comment

You can use Command ⌘ instead of Control ^ on Mac