Beginner Tip for remembering when to use じん and when to use にん

There is a lot of vocab that include the kanji for person. 人. And each has it’s own reading. This method has been a fast and easy way to never forget the right reading.

You may notice in the early lessons that にん is the reading used when talking about amounts of people (beyond 2).

I found that associating the にん reading with large quantities of people and the じん reading with low quantities of people I could always remember which reading to use through mnemonics.

For example:
びょうにん means patient or sick person. Well there are plenty of patients out there!
たにん means other person. There are lots of other people out there besides myself.
あくにん lots of “villians” in the world

めいじん most people don’t make it to be a “famous person”
しゅじん only one “head of household” per household
べつじん very few are able to change their ways and become a “different person”
さつじん everyone dies but only a few die by “murder”

As for むらびと which means villager. Well I just think of villagers as being weird people who would rather identify themselves as びと


Also, I’ve heard other people (sorry can’t remember who!) recommending a mnemonics using ninjas, here’s one example:

Aikibujin’13 12月
I just make up different mnemonics for them myself (as Koichi fails us in that regard. ><)

For nin I make the mnemonics about Ninja.

For jin I make the mnemonics about Jinn.

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My trick is literally something stupid about who is and isn’t allowed to wear jeans, but hey, whatever works, right?


I find that most cases of じん refer to a personality characteristic or something otherwise permanent, while にん refers to an occupation or temporary status.

This covers a pretty big majority of words automatically. Then for ones that blur the line I make up mnemonics based on that principle (for example villain/あくにん is a temporary occupation because i’m going to redeem them to the side of good, whereupon they’ll be a changed person/べつじん because they have a new personality).


For the にん cases, I make up dumb mnemonics involving Nintendo, like:

A sick person is びょうにん, because when you’re sick you get to stay home and play Nintendo games all day.

A poor person is びんぼうにん, because they really want a Nintendo Switch but can’t afford it :frowning_face:

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There are very few Americajin, seems foolproof.

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Well, it does work for a few, like 人材.

heh heh.

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This seems like the real key. I noticed a pattern but couldn’t put my finger on it until I read your comment.

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I’m not allowed to not wear jeans : (

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