Bunpro seems tooo hard

Is there a way to get it to give me smaller, more beginner friendly sentences?

I understand what you mean. I came here and was initially was glad that many sentences were readable with my limited vocabulary. But as the grammar structures became more “connective”, the sentences kept using more and more words outside my range, and sometimes the setup for the sentence when identifying the speaker became too much for me and I glossed over it.

What I find odd is that at times the examples from the section below do not cover all variations of the grammar point given above. I don’t think the sentences listed in the lesson text are used in querying since they don’t have audio. I gave feedback on this for a particular point where this was the case but was told it was in the above section…


In general, the vocab decks can be somewhat useful. So it can be helpful to step through the N5 vocab deck (it’s still Beta, I think). Order it by things like most used in anime or similar and you find many useful words. I took the most common, like “oishii” and most of the katakana words to fill out my vocab a bit.

In general, though, the vocab deck feature is not great. The reality is that most vocab is hard to learn without kanji knowledge, so I got most of my vocab from WaniKani (WK). If the mnemonics from WK work for you, it’s a great way to dig into kanji, and it can be enhanced with additional scripts. Where WK falls short is that it allows nigh-zero flexibility about the order of kanji you learn. You have to go in their order, no peeking ahead.

This clearly sucks when you try to learn kanji in their phonetic groups, where at times lots of kanji share their sounding and would be easier to learn together. No support. This is a limitation that Bunpro doesn’t have, though, so if you know the kanji in the same phonetic group, look them up in vocab search here, pick words with the onyomi reading for them, and add them to your lesson queue. This way you can actually learn related kanji faster. It doesn’t help with kunyomi, but if you have the onyomi and the meaning down, you can add kunyomi easier, I guess.

Why do I say that the Bunpro way of learning vocab isn’t that great? You’d have to do your own mnemonics for all words, and that is a skill you might or might not have. I do find that mnemonics help a lot, and that for memorizing the many combinations of various kanji into vocab words pure SRS by itself is not that great, though the querying with example sentences is a boon.

In the end you need both, grammar and vocab. I found it more satisfying to start with vocab. You can then spot uses of your vocab - for example in anime etc. I find that it helps to slowly break down the stream of sounds into words, and I only added grammar when I felt that wasn’t enough by itself.


I’m a bit puzzled by this thread. To the ones having difficulty, or suggesting learning vocab first, do you study the example sentences for the grammar points? The example sentences have the translation, so I learn the exact vocab I need for the grammar points there if it is needed to understand the grammar. I don’t think there is any need to learn a core deck (never did one) or learn vocab in advance to learn the grammar points.

Someone used つもりas an example. Here are all at the example sentences for つもりだ. I think the sentences are simple and do not have difficult vocab, but if there is a word you don’t know, you can learn it right there and/or put it in Anki. And I can’t be 100% sure, but at least for N5 and N4, I think all the reviews are picked from these example sentences, so if you learn the vocab in the example sentences, you won’t get a review sentence with vocab you’ve never learned. Or am I wrong about this and there are such sentences?



Just out of curiosity, why would mnemonics be necessary for learning vocab? I can see the argument why explicit kanji study may be useful (although I also think it isn’t necessary to learn vocab) but I’m not sure why you’d need or want a mnemonic system for vocab? I’m struggling to see how this is a reason to not suggest Bunpro (or Anki or JPDB or whatever).


Just out of curiosity, why would mnemonics be necessary for learning vocab?

It depends. (On’yomi) Vocab on average is sensible - combining 2 or 3 kanji often enough is rather self-explanatatory. It’s by far more logical than the kanji themselves, for sure. But there are many words where I cannot retain the meaning. This may be because they have shifted meaning over time, or because there’s a concept behind I don’t understand. But for these cases I find mnemonics useful.

This also becomes apparent when you learn a lot of similar words at the same time, involving one kanji but grouping it with a different one each time - to pinpoint which one of the many combinations of yuu + x is evening shower, which one evening, which one sundown, which one dusk… I know the individual kanji but I still mix them up because not all of them are self-evident.

In comparison, vocab on WK has mnemonics where they are needed. This is the case especially for all the exceptional readings - like where you encounter a main reading for the first time, you get a mnemonic story the same as for the readings you learned the kanji with. Occasionally, when needed, the explanation of the vocab will also be a mnemonic when the word is made up in a way that’s not immediately obvious. Most of these are more like explanations.

I find the WK format more useful and better to retain, especially since they thought about readings and how common they are. They could still improve in regards to mnemonics for telling apart words that are derived from the same root, usually verbs.

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It’s not strictly ‘necessary’, but is often useful. In particular when there are lots of near-synonyms among the Vocabs, I find making up (extremely simple, nothing sophisticated) mnemonics to help out with disambiguating similar vocabs.

A fairly easy way to do this, particularly with multi-kanji compounds, is to write something like (random example):
率直 = 率 + 直 = lead + honesty = frankness

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If it works for you then that’s great. I don’t really want to derail this thread so I won’t expand but my opinion is that Wanikani is actually not a very good system for long-term learning and some of the strengths you described are actually weaknesses.

You’re going to have to learn tens of thousands of words if you want to get good at Japanese and saying that a vocab SRS needs a mnemonic system built in for all words to be worth using is perhaps misguided if you look at things beyond the short-term. That’s my opinion at least.

No argument with that. Some people find it very useful, especially for their first couple of thousand words, but the commenter above was saying people should steer clear of Bunpro vocab (and by extension also any other SRS that doesn’t have pre-made vocab mnemonics) which I personally think is bad advice. Temporarily using mnemonics to remember tricky words is of course inarguably fine.

On the topic: I agree with lots of the comments above. Japanese is hard. Bunpro is actually not that hard in the scheme of things. Textbooks or super basic on-ramp style material may help.

One thing I will add that hasn’t been mentioned is that Bunpro is closer to an interactive textbook than a “language learning app” in the style of Duolingo or something so you can’t expect to use it 3 hours a day like a little videogame. Take it slow and use multiple resources (graded readers, beginner podcasts, textbooks, whatever) until things start to feel like they’re clicking. Check out the extra resources tab under each grammar point as well - that’s a good place to start.


I recommend trying an i+1 sentence with audio on Anki [such as iKnow clones].
i+1 means each sentence only has one new word.

To make bunpro easier you could switch to ‘reading’ type, grade yourself on the English meaning, not the hiragana.
Then, once you get through N5 the first time, reset and do cloze.
This way you learn how recognize it before you learn how to spell it. Breaking it into two steps Is longer overall, but you’re still learning.


You’re going to have to learn tens of thousands of words if you want to get good at Japanese and saying that a vocab SRS needs a mnemonic system built in for all words to be worth using is perhaps misguided if you look at things beyond the short-term. That’s my opinion at least.

That actually depends on your learning strategy. I found straight-up SRS to be just rote learning. I do best with a mix of seeing it used in context (by association) and where it’s hard to retain, I can use a mnemonic. (Talking about vocab.)

The reason why I say the vocab feature is “somewhat useful” (for example, I didn’t say “steer clear”) is because of the sum of its limitations, more of a felt sense than a single knock-out reason, though I picked a particular one to demonstrate my point.

Other points that I found that I find make the vocab feature harder to use, especially for purposes like the OP’s:

I started learning common words and some really common ones have a really ridiculous amount of ways to be translated. This is of course not Bunpro’s fault, my point here is presentation. Some of these words could be grammar points themselves (and are), but there’s no cross-referencing, so the deck blindly repeats them. Hopefully in the future that cross-referencing will happen, but I’m talking about the vocab feature as-is.

Then there are plenty of deviations of the list of meanings given and how it’s translated in the example sentences. It becomes pretty obvious after you fail a SRS query several times and it turns out that the translation they chose is not in the translations they listed. In cases where this just comes with the territory (words that mean “to be” and “to do” are a prime example), a little explanatory text would be fine.

It could be argued that that’s the breadth of meaning a word can take, but for that there are dictionaries. It’s less useful to see word translated in ten different ways, one for each example, than to retain two or three core meanings. Yes, your starting point will be a bit stilted, but since you’re learning, it’s better to retain something and then learn nuance later I find. So if the vocab meanings list was kept to a core (either highlighted and the others listed separately) and the example sentences stuck to them, that would be best for initial retention.

Then, regarding beginner-friendly sentences, I found that even for N5 vocab the sentences certainly seemed more complex. I can’t keep track or cross-reference if they stuck to the vocab list of N5 itself, but it does have a feel of “we have to have at least half a dozen examples for this vocab word” and could have been curated better.

That’s the part where I’d say they need to improve, and I have my doubts about it given the scope of work needed, but I’d be happy to be proven wrong. Because it would make the vocab feature definitely much better.

But to give a full picture, the fact that somebody collected the words, ordered them along several criteria, curated them into batches, allows you to learn them in any order, that’s good. Particularly good is that you can listen to decent quality audio for each which is very important, plus they all can be queried with fill-in queries, which I find important for learning. That’s why I say “somewhat useful” and “depending.”

Now, the question if there’s a better way - hmm, I don’t know. I haven’t seen one yet, but I haven’t ranged that widely. It’s usable and I hope it will be improved further. It’s linked with a good SRS engine with a lot of flexibility, one of the reasons why I chose Bunpro in the first place.

Now, if you compare it with something like Duolingo it of course wins hands down. I deinstalled that very soon because its approach to teaching Japanese is a pedagogic trainwreck. It might work for languages that share familiarity with the ones you know, but I found it was very random.

I like approaches that honor many learning strategies. Admittedly, just like anybody else, I can do without features that don’t work for me but do for others. WK always tries to create these multi-sense experiences, especially visualizing something, which is not how I retain words, so I ignore it. But there might be people who that appeals to, so I still think it’s good they added it.


Just a shorter one regarding the difficulties the OP faced:

Japanese is hard, there’s a lot of ground to cover. That fact remains.

Pedagogic approaches to how to teach Japanese continue to evolve and are quite a mixed batch. There will probably never be a one size fits all.

I find Bunpro in general useful, but when one resorts to sites like this, one often has to structure their own learning - and that might be part of what the OP finds challenging. Developing your own pedagogic strategy, navigating what is important, how to balance vocab, grammar, reading, listening, and speaking in a way that is useful and feels like one is making progress.

In fact, you will have to define even your own benchmark of what progress is over time. As long as you feel you’re making progress, it probably won’t matter how much time it takes.


That’s not always the case. BunPro does cross reference most words, and there are others that have multiple entries due to different readings (meanings). That said, I agree that there’s still work to be done here.

Yes, this is definitely a problem. I’ve been reporting these inconsistencies on a daily basis, which is unfortunate. The issue stems from vocabulary sentences being autogenerated, and given their sheer numbers, it’s very time consuming for the staff to go through all of them. However, a validation system is currently being worked on. This will give users peace of mind that the translations and keywords provided are accurate. There’s no timeline, but hopefully this will be implemented soon.

I see your point, but I don’t agree with it. When I started learning Japanese, this is exactly the way I learned certain grammar points. Then I’d encounter a different usage and get confused because it’s completely different than the way I learned it. For that reason I rather have the full meaning and usages of words/grammar points, even if they are daunting at first. You can still start by memorizing a couple of meanings, if you want, but at least you’re aware that there are others. Personally, I prefer that. Give me all the information, and I’ll parse it out as I see fit.

Sure :+1:.

BTW, I agree that mnemonics are a good way to learn Kanji and Words. I even do it with Grammar points, by association with either English or Spanish words (for example).


Fair enough. I personally do like the way they do it in grammar points - give you “stilted way” and “better way” at the same time. Even if they could highlight the two or three most common uses for the words that have many would be enough, really.

The issue stems from vocabulary sentences being autogenerated

That explains a lot, thanks for sharing.

However, a validation system is currently being worked on.

Cool. :slight_smile:

I’ve been reporting these inconsistencies on a daily basis

Well, I’ve been despairing of the feedback system because it seems a bit of a black hole. If they’re directing resources towards their own, systematic approach of things I can live with that (at least more than if they don’t).


You’re not wrong about Bunpro vocab having weaknesses. I was only originally picking up on the fact that you said not having built in mnemonics for vocab is a weakness which I’d say it really isn’t. Wasn’t deeper than that.

I think perhaps you also misunderstood what I intended to say. I didn’t mean you need to SRS tens of thousands of words, just learn them. I’d say I’m perhaps at the stage of having a passive vocab in the tens of thousands just about and I learn most words by reading. I’m not a big fan of doing lots of SRS myself.

In terms of the best way to learn vocab, as a flat beginner just doing anything in your means to get it to stick is my advice (mnemonics, kanji study, brute force, whatever) but as an intermediate learner kanji ceases to be an issue and words are much easier to learn so I’d suggest just reading and listening a lot and repping context rich flashcards (collocations, common usages, etc) and let the reading do the rest of the work. It is personal though so once you graduate from wanikani I’m sure you’ll settle on your own system.


One thing I forgot to mention in my previous post (I guess I lost my train of thought, lol) is that, while I do agree that mnemonics are a good tool to learn things, I wouldn’t want BunPro to impose them on me. I think that mnemonics work best when they are personal. Some mnemonics may work for a lot of people, but the best ones are the ones you come up with, IME.

Thankfully a tool like Wanikani allows you to do this, which I think is great! BunPro too, since it has a Notepad section for each entry where you can write anything you want. And, like @CursedKitsune said, once you’re at a high enough level, you can then use that Kanji knowledge to learn more words and get the context through exposure. It’s definitely MUCH easier to learn words once you know Kanji. For sure!

BTW, I’m not suggesting learning Kanji in isolation. I think that’s a terrible idea. Instead, learning them through words and mnemonics, like Wanikani does. Once you’ve accumulated enough knowledge, then the magic starts and suddenly you now know how to read and understand pretty much any word, even if you’ve never seen it before. I think that’s the real advantage of the Wanikani system. It’s just takes a lot of work to get there. Then again, we’re talking about Kanji here.


I often struggle to understand what Bunpro is asking for. I get a lot ”let’s try a different grammar structure here” notices because I tend to understand the sentence or the structure that is looked for but not the exact one that Bunpro is asking for.

Another thing is I usually get the right grammar point but miss the conjugation of it.

But slowly and steadily progressing.

Actually I find Lingodeer very useful where it gives you all the words of the sentence and you have to arrange them in right order. It’s very good to understanding sentence structure. At the same I find it somewhat poor tool teaching actual grammar. Bunpro is way better for pure grammar studying. Wanikani on the other hand is the best vocab tool.

I use a mixture of different tools for different purposes.


i just want to throw in that i started learning japanese before bunpro got launched and it doesnt get much easier than this. bunpro is already a silver platter with gold lining and cherry on top. learning japanese has never been easier than today.

tip: just spend more time with the example sentences. dont rely on the SRS too much and be patient.


I felt the same way and paused for a while —started again after getting to WaniKani level 23. Results: much much better.

Now I have massive problems again but it’s due exclusively to the grammar learning process. :partying_face:


Thanks for expressing your concerns here @DerKastellan! I have just had a look through your feedback history on the site and it seems as though you are completely correct on all points that you raised. Negative feedback like this is the natural consequence of not being attentive enough on our part, and letting things slip through that should not.

I will personally have a look through a good chunk of your feedback as soon as possible and deal with the ones that I am able to deal with effectively.

The sentences in the grammar descriptions are not included in the srs quizzes. As descriptions themselves are relatively new compared to the actual site itself, we never intended initially to have audio on them. However, this has recently changed, and we will be adding audio to all example sentences even within the descriptions.

This is something that I feel is very person to person, especially when it comes to vocab. I am not the biggest fan of mnemonics for vocab, or for kanji for that matter, but I am just one person :sweat_smile:. Our goal for the way that users will approach vocab, and the strongest feature that we feel we provide, is level appropriate example sentences that help you learn a word through a context net of other related words that you would actually see with the target vocab in real life. This gives the user the nuance of the word and a base for memorization by providing situations that they would actually be used, something that is useful to anybody, regardless of their preferred study method.

However, in the same way that we have a notes feature for grammar points, we have provided the notes feature on vocab. This feature is for mnemonics that users want to create for themselves, or for anything else that they feel personally will help them remember words.

We may allow something similar to user sharing of vocab notes in the future, especially if we find that we do have a substantial community of users that actually use mnemonics for things like vocab.


Quoted, I know someone that may be desirous of helping bring that dream to fruition. Only a PM away.


I’m new here. Still on free trial, but Ill give my few cents on the learning approach anyway.

While I do like the grammar study here, I’m probably appreciating the vocab study more. I appreciate the concept/context centred approach for vocab here, rather than the kanji centred approach at wanikani. I am still learning kanji and vocab in kanji form separately, but I’ve stopped learning kanji readings and vocab reading based on kanji. Id rather tie a word in kana (phonetics) form to a concept, rather than a kanji, and tie the kanji to the same concept in conjunction with the vocab. Extra steps will probably take longer, but in the end, a complete understanding of a language will distill down to concepts at the center [ kanji <— concept —> vocab ], not kanji [concept <— kanji —> vocab].

I won’t argue that mnemonics wouldn’t be helpful, a la like sounding words in a sentence, or something, rather than failing it several times before it sticks, but they are just a crutch in the end, and it isn’t a feature I’m missing, yet, but I don’t know much over 500 words.