Basic question about pronunciation

Hi guys, so I started vocabulary today and I’m very confused already.
So, when it comes down to kun’yomi, how do I understand which pronunciation I should use?
some of the first words I studied are 下げる、下がる and 下さい.
What’s the rule that makes it so the first 2 下 are pronunced さ and the 3rd is くど ?
Some others are tricking my mind ( why is 人口 read じんこ instead of にんこう? ) but I’ll stick with that for my example.
I really hope some grammar rules are hiding behind this trickery.

When there are multiple readings, sometimes there are distinct rules. With 人, there are quite a lot, but they really only apply when the kanji is used as a suffix. If it’s not a true suffix (as in it entered Japanese from Chinese as part of an existing word), then whether it’s じん or にん is based on the time period it was imported. I’m sure if you search for 人 じん にん you’ll find lots of threads discussing the rules for when it’s a suffix.

For something that has multiple kunyomi’s, you just have to remember which readings fit which words. It’s not that something makes the kanji be さ and then something gets attached.

There was already a word, like さがる and くださる, and then Japanese imported kanji from China, applied the kanji to those words, and some of the remaining hiragana are left outside the kanji for inflections.

When Japanese people learn kanji, they already know the words, and they’re just learning how to write them, which does make it easier. A Japanese person would never look at 下がる and wonder if it’s くだ or さ, because they know くださる and さがる already, so matching it up is effortless.


To add to this, there is no rule or predictability to how the kun’yomi are constructed, but you recognize the reading by the okurigana for verbs. WK usually teaches the dictionary form (the one that ends in う), 下さい and various noun forms of verbs being exceptions. Verbs can be inflected, though. But if you know the rules, which are mostly regular, you will still be able to recognize which verb it was and which kun’yomi it uses.

Same with i-adjectives like 大きい.

1 Like

I’m starting to intuitively know sometimes which reading would work. This doesn’t always happen, but when it does I’m grateful. :rainbow:


This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.