Major Update - Hints! (31st-July-2022)

Hi everyone!

Today I have the great privilege of being able to introduce a renewed feature of Bunpro. Hints!

One of the biggest ongoing pain points over the last few years for users has been the dreaded ‘synonym hell’, where perhaps 10 different correct answers could work in any review, and the guessing game that results from this becomes a massive time sink.

What we have come up with aims not only to make synonym hell a thing of the past, but also to actually reinforce positive habits with each review. Let’s have a look at how and why we think it will work.

:face_with_monocle: Overview of the system :face_with_monocle:

In the past, the hint system has always given users a rough idea of what is required with things like ‘try something more polite’, or ‘seems like’. However, with the pool of potentially ‘more polite’ grammar points, or structures that could mean ‘seems like’ being quite large, this just led to frustration.

Now, we have written 1 unique hint for each grammar point on the website, which gives enough information to understand what is required. Moreover, this unique hint will not only appear in the nuance section of whatever is being reviewed, but will also be triggered when an incorrect or undesired grammar point is used, reinforcing the difference between grammar point (A) and (B).

Example - Let’s say that you are reviewing のように. Perhaps in a sentence like the following:


In this case, the following information will appear in the nuance section:

Nuance : A slightly formal expression that highlights that (B) is being done in the manner, or like (A).

From the use of ‘slightly formal’ and ‘manner’, you will be able to determine that this is a grammar point that uses よう. However, if みたいに is used, then the following hint will appear:

Hint : みたいに is a somewhat casual expression that confidently highlights the way something looks, or is acting.

Seeing both the nuance and the hint on the screen at the same time will allow you to compare and contrast the nuance differences in real time, hopefully leading to a higher success rate in the future.

As another example, if the review was for かえって, and むしろ is mistakenly used, the following would appear:


Nuance : A word used to express that rather than (A), (B). Can be seen as revoking or taking back the initial (A), due to (B) being more correct.

Hint : むしろ is a phrase used to say rather than (A), (B), often with the nuance that (B) is preferable.

:ok_man: Why we think this will work :ok_man:

With every grammar point now having its own unique nuance made clear each time it is being reviewed, this has allowed us to focus on using sets of key words that are repeated on each different grammar point that use the same structure. For example, all grammar points that use よう will have ‘manner’ in the hint, all grammar points that use う・よう will have ‘strong intent or mutual actions’ in the hint, all grammar points that use あまり will have ‘excessive’ in the hint.

We hope that and intend for users to become familiar with these word choice patterns over time, as we feel that memorization of these key words will help strengthen the understanding of core nuances within the grammar points.

:woman_student: What about hints for things like different politeness levels :woman_student:

Now that each grammar point has it’s own unique hint, this will also allow us to make a set of standard hints directed specifically at things like missing particles, politeness levels, etc etc. If you use the correct grammar point, but we are looking for the polite form, ‘Let’s try a more polite variation’ will appear. Specifically because each grammar point has its own hint, this will let the user know straight away that they are using the correct grammar point already, and just need to change its form, rather than misleading them that they need a different, more polite grammar point.

:snowboarder: How will this system evolve in the future :snowboarder:

Due to all of the new nuance based hints being stored in a local database, this will allow us to continue to polish them based on user feedback, until we eventually hit the perfect balance of what a hint should be, without making things too easy, or too hard.

:japan: Japanese translations - Although we have not started on this yet, the database of nuance based hints will also allow us to translate them into Japanese and other languages in future, allowing for a far more immersive experience for those that want it.

:world_map: Road map :world_map:

Currently, all of the direct hints are already live in the nuance section of the study questions. Over the coming weeks we will be continuing to add in the extra hints for when undesired or incorrect grammar points are used. In addition to this, we will also be continuing to add underlining on key words within the nuances, to increase clarity about which words are the ‘crucial’ part of the hint, such as here:

We hope that this is a change that will continue to evolve in a positive manner until ‘synonym hell’ is a distant memory in the abyss of our collective memories :rofl:.

Please feel free to leave any and all feedback, and we hope that you all enjoy the new nuances and how they will act to positively reinforce your knowledge of differences between similar structures, and more literal meanings of some more obscure grammar points!

Hope you all are having a lovely weekend! :partying_face:


thanks, looking forward to seeing it in action.


Excited to start working with these new hints, especially with the extra nuance added!


Thank you!!

This is a much needed improvement. There are just too many similar sounding grammar points in Japanese, that I ended up using a correct one but not the desired one, very frequently. This should help mitigate that problem.


Thanks for the hard work!

The more you advance in Bunpro, the more annoying “Can you say it another way” becomes.
Hope this reduces the appearance of that!


I love this! My reviews this morning went so much more smoothly.


I like this change, lately I’ve found this to be a larger problem after adding a wider variety of topics to the review queue.

Unrelated, and I know you guys are already aware of it, but is there an ETA on removing the two duplicate grammar points in N3? I can no longer use the study button on the home page because it defaults to those points but I am trying to skip them.


I have requested that the dev team remove these points. Not 100% sure what the holdup is (perhaps they are merging the review data from one point to the other for people that already have them in their review queues), but I will badger them again to get it done asap! :bowing_man:


This sounds amazing, thanks for your hard work! I did not expect this to arrive so soon :tada: Now I’m ever more motivated to clean up my review pile :grin:

Regarding your excellent guide here, I do have two small questions:

Further up, you called them “Nuance” and “Hint”, but here you are using “direct hint” for what I think is the Nuance, and “extra hint” for what I think is the Hint, right? I’m sorry to bother you with this, but this is all new stuff for me, so I am more prone to lose track when different terms are used for the same thing.

This is also supposed to be “Nuance”, I guess?


Hahah, no worries at all, my wording was quite unclear upon reflection. The ‘Nuance’ is the direct hint that always appears on any given grammar point, pointing toward the ‘desired’ answer. The actual extra hints come after, when the user inputs an answer that may/may not be correct, but wasn’t the answer that we were looking for (replacing the traditional ‘try something more polite’ style of vague hint that we had in the past).

In your account settings, the direct hint is called ‘Nuance’, which is the primary reason I used that name there. Basically, nuance and hint are interchangable terms in regard to this system. The only difference is that one is always visible ‘direct’, which can be altered in your account settings, while the other one is ‘extra’, which will only ever appear upon an incorrectly input answer.


Thank you Bunpro team, what a great upgrade. :slight_smile:


Working well so far and very helpful. Thanks!


Having hints in Japanese will be a game changer!


The new hint system feels great to have! Also the new footer looks nice with all of the links to the important pages :+1:


Just here to say thank you for your work, this sounds very useful :slight_smile:


Good stuff! It will be really helpful to see consistent hints.

Question about “casual determiner”… Could you explain more about this? I thought だ is usually referred to as the copula. I was unfamiliar with the term “determiner”, so I google searched “japanese determiner”, and I got pages like this talking about words before nouns like こ・そ・あ・ど words.
The LingQ Japanese Grammar Guide - Determiners
Demonstratives: The Ko-so-a-do Series | Japanese Professor


In most cases, the hints were written in a way that will support Japanese in the future, so ‘determine’ is just to match 指定 or 断定, which are the usual descriptors for what だ and です do in Japanese. Determination, affirmation, designation, or specification all probably would have been equally as good.

As much as possible, academic language has been avoided, except when the pool of answers is large enough that it it will be helpful, without just flatly giving the answer away. Most of the time this is things like ‘suffix’, ‘prefix’, or ‘particle’, where there are still many possibilities even within those categories.


I vote for designation (or designator). Those other words have other implied meanings. :+1:


Agreed this is the key feature I am looking forward to.


This sounds like it will help me get through reviews quicker and understand the differences.