Difference between Kanji Reading and Vocab Reading

Hello all!

I’m fairly new to the world of kanji but am up to Level 3 and making slooow progress during the lockdown.

One thing I’m still getting confused on is the difference in reading between the pink Kanji readings and the purple Vocab readings. I understand that there are two different readings, but if we’ve learnt the pink Kanji reading, why does that change when it’s the same kanji under Vocab/purple (if it’s still the singular character.)

I’m sure this is a really n00b point that I’ve missed along the way but if anyone has a way of explaining in idiot terms that would be super helpful.

Thank you :slight_smile:


It’s not so much that it changed. The “vocab reading” is also a valid reading for the kanji you learned. And sometimes they are the same (what you learned in kanji lesson and the vocab reading). It depends which one the creators decided to teach in the kanji lesson.

They just usually teach an onyomi in the kanji lesson because that’s going to appear in compounds more often.


The vocabulary reading for a character shows how the kanji is pronounced when it is used as a single word (not all kanji are used this way).
The kanji reading tends to be the most common reading of the kanji, which may be different.

You might want to read the whole Tofugu article on readings:



Onyomi and Kunyomi yes, but in case you don’t know there can be multiple onyomi and kunyomi. Wk just tries to take the most common reading and follows it up with a vocab to reinforce it. You will encounter many vocab that don’t use that reading though.

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Pink readings are like:


:joy: :joy: :joy: Perfect

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