Checking contextual kanji readings


I tried to search for existing threads on this but I wasn’t sure what wording to search with and my results came up empty so I’m starting a new thread.

How do you check the proper kanji reading within a sentence? I’ve started to notice lately that Google will use the wrong readings (at least I think) when I translate sentences using kanji. I try to double check with Rikaikun and Jisho but they always show multiple readings.

Is there a reliable resource to double check the reading of a kanji that is used within a sentence? Please let me know what you all use to double check your kanji. Thank you!


Kanji aren’t used in sentences. Words are used in sentences. And words only have one reading (like 99.9% of the time). Kanji have multiple readings and there is no "correct’ one.

Maybe give us an example of your problem?


I guess I am at the level where I don’t know enough words to know the difference but I come across this limitation in my knowledge a lot. I was doing reviews and this sentence reminded me of the issue;


I wasn’t sure if in this instance 内 is read as うち or ない


I guess this comes down to the difference between kun’yomi and on’yomi right?


I think this is オフィスない, because it’s a sort of compound word. うち means one’s home or inside, so I don’t think it would be used here.


If you look it up on jisho, you will see that if you are using it as a standalone word, the reading is うち, and if you are using it as a suffix, then it is ない.
Also, even if the word has multiple readings/meanings, context will usually tell you which one is being used.


I think the issue is that I’m not too good at deciphering context yet. A lot of words can run together in a sentence for me because I can’t divide it all up well enough yet.

I was hoping there was some kind of website that could break apart a sentence into individual components in order to make it easier to find the correct reading

Using my example:
[ニッカ] は [いつも] [オフィス] [内] を [走り回っています]
(not sure if 内 is combined with オフィス)


Yeah, that’s the suffix usage of 内. It couldn’t really be grammatical otherwise.


There are algorithms that can divide text into lemmas (lemma is approximately the same as a word), nothing super accurate though. They’re usually used to get information out of large corpora, so they’re far from water-tight. I don’t however know where to get or how to use one of these.

#10 can do that, but don’t expect it to be 100% reliable. It’s not something that can be completely automated.


Thank you! That is exactly what I was looking for! If I could give your post multiple hearts I would lol


Keep in mind that the reading of certain words has to be deduced from context and can’t be automatic.
For instance, 行った can be either いった or おこなった depending on the context. Usually if there’s a を it’s おこなった and if there’s に it’s いった but it’s not always obvious. There are plenty of situations like that in Japanese.


Thankfully machine learning is slowly getting to the point where it could figure that out. Hopefully there is someone out there with a passion for machine learning algorithms and Japanese :stuck_out_tongue: