Annoying question regarding the definition of "reading"

Hey there, first post here nice to meet you all!

A couple of weeks ago the word 今晩は appeared in my lessons, which was nice. While reviewing, I was asked for its reading and I thought: the reading is clearly how the word is pronounced, in hiragana. So I typed in “こんばんわ”, getting it wrong.

This got me thinking, the reading of a sentence is then not the literal pronunciation, but how it’d look written entirely in hiragana. What do you think?


Well in this instance は is pronounced wa, which is why that would be marked as wrong. It’s because it’s technically the particle in this case (given that 今晩は is just a shortening of a full sentence). How something is written in hiragana is how it is pronounced, so I’m not totally sure I follow the question.

Regardless, it would also still be marked as incorrect as こんはんは. 今晩は is こんんは.


Oh sorry that was a typo, thanks

You say the pronunciation is how it is written in hiragana, but the particle は for example is pronounced “wa” or “ha” depending the context, so the concept of “reading” kinda gets blurry.

For example, let’s make up a sentence with the reading


It could be 学校に入る or let ガッコウ be a name, ガッコウにはいる. In both cases the reading is written the same, but the pronunciation of は is wa in one case and ha in the other.

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Well, if it’s the particle, it’s always wa. If it’s being read as ha, it’s not a particle, just a character.

But yeah, I guess there is some confusion there, in that は (the particle) didn’t get changed to わ phonetically like one might expect. It kept the older Japanese “spelling”. It can be a bit confusing, but context will generally always tell you which reading it takes. Similar to kanji having multiple readings, depending on context.

That doesn’t change that how it is written in hiragana is how it’s pronounced; it just means that pronunciation for は specifically can vary.

I’ve actually seen this にはいる in comics and each time I’ve seen it there is a new line or a space to clarify.





Think of it like を which is usually pronounced as お or but can be pronounced as を. That doesn’t meant that you can write お to denote the object of a sentence.


I’m not sure putting a name there like 田中にはいる makes a ton of sense? Unless you’re talking about something like cells


Although there are several verbs read いる so I guess it could also be one of those


Reading is just the translation of the term 読み方, and the definition of that is indeed “the pronunciation of the characters.” It’s just that は is one of the few kana characters with multiple pronunciations.


So the definition of “reading of a sentence” would have the following meaning:

You replace the kanji with its pronunciation in hiragana, given by the alphabet (wa → わ, ha -->は) and leave all the kana as is.

For someone who doesn’t know what a particle is and only has the alphabet, he would mispronounce the はs.

To me, in perfect world, “wa”'s reading (not writing) would always be わ and “ha” always は

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Yes, it’s just weird that you’re writing “the way of pronouncing” and still don’t know if it’s wa or ha

Who doesn’t know if it’s wa or ha? I can’t really imagine any scenario where a は could be ambiguous on WaniKani. In any case, kana always stay as they are if you can see them in the item prompt itself.




Makes sense to me.

Aye. This happens all the time to people who only study via books and never hear how anything is pronounced. It’s the same way in English if you came across genre and pronounced it genree.

But in the Japanese example above, it’s pretty clear how to pronounce it even if it takes you second glance, but again, you have to know how Japanese is pronounced.

Aye, several times a day I fervently wish that Japanese didn’t have exceptions or conventions that were set a hundred years before I was born.

But I’ve found that I can’t meaningfully do anything about how it was or how it should be. I just have to deal with what it is. :wink:


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