Can we have Kunyomi and On'yomi for Radicals?

Hi I’m currently new in Wanikani and I’m currently trying to learn kanji. I found major plot-hole on the website which were they don’t include the readings of radicals. Kanji reading is there but for radical it’s not. For me it’s a big key to remember a radical using their readings because with this you can form kanji and knows what radicals is inside the kanji. looking for response for this. Thanks!

Radicals don’t have readings, even in Japanese. They have names, in either language.

It’s important to distinguish between kanji, which can appear in words, and radicals, which are just parts of kanji and have no pronunciation.

Sometimes a radical and the kanji it makes are the same shape, like in 山, but we don’t say the radical 山 has a reading.

The Japanese name of the radical 山 is やま when it appears on the top or bottom of a kanji, and that’s the same as the kunyomi of the kanji 山, but when it appears on the left side, like in 峠, the name is やまへん, so it’s not always the same there.

On WaniKani it will always be called “mountain” wherever it appears.


Radicals don’t have readings. I think you are misunderstanding what a radical is. Radicals are just building blocks for kanji, they have names, but they don’t have their own reading.

Edit: aw I got Leebo’d


I think I’m having a bit misunderstanding here. Sorry I’m really new with kanji. So for instance


1 strokes. Jōyō kanji, taught in grade 1. JLPT level N5. 2 of 2500 most used kanji in newspapers.


one, one radical (no.1)


Kun: ひと-, ひと.つ On: イチ, イツ


Radical: one 一 Parts: 一

at the part of Kun there’s a reading. Is this valid?

Those are readings for the kanji entry of 一.

The meaning section (on Jisho?) also just lets you know that that shape can also be a radical. For convenience. It doesn’t mean the radical has readings.

Not all kanji can also be radicals, so it’s sometimes helpful to know when they can be.

It’s also worth noting that that use of the word radical is different from how WaniKani uses the word. In that sense it can be used in a kanji dictionary to classify kanji. On WaniKani “radicals” just means “parts of kanji.”

so does it mean all radicals are kanji by itself?

No, some radicals are not kanji. Like the “drop” shape in the center of 凡, it can’t be a kanji alone, but it is a radical.

Radicals don’t have readings.
Even a newbie noobster like me knows this…

I personally don’t see how it is constructive to come into a thread that already has the answer to the posed question just to try and make the OP feel dumb for a misunderstanding.

This is a place for students and learning, and people should be able to ask questions. With this in the forum history, someone later down the road might do a search and find an answer to the same question, so the thread can also serve a good purpose. :slight_smile:


thanks for defending me. this is a dumb question really. I’ve tried searching it in google and in the wanikani community and come up with no answer so I assumed that radicals have kunyomi and onyomi. I’m open for corrections since this is all the community all about.

however I’m still not clarified with the question I’ve got. how come do radicals don’t have they own kunyomi and onyomi? <_> thanks!


The reason they don’t have readings on WaniKani is because they are just building blocks. They are the pieces you make kanji out of.

It’s not quite the same… but like… the letter A and the word “A” have the same shape. But we don’t say that the letter A has all the same properties as the word “A”. It shares some properties, but other properties are things only words have.

Radicals and kanji sometimes share properties, but readings are things only kanji have, not radicals.

On the Japanese side of things, with the strict definition of radical used for dictionaries… each kanji has precisely one radical associated with it, and that radical is used to index the kanji in dictionaries. That’s the main use of radicals in Japanese, and again, reading them is not part of the equation.


There is also a tofugu article on radicals that you can look through. ^^

And while this may sound very unsatisfying: it’s okay if you don’t fully understand it right now. I personally struggled to comprehend the on’yomi and kun’yomi dynamic for a long time. It all fell into place as I continued.

WaniKani teaches (their version of) radicals to make it easier to remember kanji. They craft mnemonic stories using the radicals. Later, if you’re trying to recall a kanji, you can mentally name the radicals, and that can jump-start your recollection of the mnemonic story, and by extension, the recollection of the meaning and / or reading.


So others have pointed out that radicals are parts of kanji, and only kanji have readings and meanings. You rightly pointed out that some radicals are kanji in their own right. In fact, many are. WK teaches that information with the kanji itself in that case, of course.

But if you want to learn more about how the composition is done, check out the Kisei Phonetic-Semantic Composition user script. It gives you an idea of how the kanji (and radicals) you are learning are parts of or contain other kanji and how that gives you a clue to both the meaning and the reading of other ones. It’s not only interesting academically, but also useful, since many compositions give you a shortcut to the meanings/readings of more complex kanji.


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