Help remembering both the Chinese and Japanese readings for Kanji

So I’m going through my levels, pretty low level so it’s nothing difficult. However I’ve just recently realised that I’m just seeing a kanji or bit of vocab during lessons and then just end up punching in the readings I’ve been given.

I don’t actually give two thoughts towards whether it’s the Chinese or Japanese reading I’m using.

I also realised that if I try to, for most readings, I couldn’t tell you which one it is.

So I need help remembering whether a reading is Chinese or Japanese. Any tips?
Unless learning the readings isn’t that much of a deal early on and it’s something that comes with time.

Much appreciated!


Yeah, you pretty much nailed it.

If you are interested in it, go for it and learn more about it. But it’s not critical early on. You’ll come to recognize patterns over time and get a feel for which is which.


If you want a very rough guide, then just know that notation that contains mini-kana (like ちゃ) originally didn’t exist in Japanese and was created to transcribe Chinese sounds. That aside, on’yomi are usually pretty short (1-2 morae i.e. units of sound/beats per kanji), whereas kun’yomi are often much longer. Otherwise though, just look out for patterns and perhaps check whether something is on’yomi or kun’yomi when you learn it. You should start noticing a difference over time. I’m a Chinese speaker, so perhaps I’m not a good example, but native Japanese readings and readings based on Chinese are often really quite different.


Okay cheers, I won’t pay too much attention for the time being then.

That’s a good point, hadn’t thought of that. Thanks!

Like Jonapedia-さん mentioned, I think a very rough and general rule is that the on’yomi readings are usually shorter, and the kun’ ones are longer. However, there are many, many instances where that isn’t true, but it might help in those early levels :joy:

Also, after some levels, you will start to notice that some on’ readings show themselves up over and over again. For example, ちょう、じゅう、こう、き、etc…

You will get a feel for them, so every time you will see one, you can safely say with some semblance of sureness that it’s a Chinese reading =)


IIRC the early levels have the bulk of the really stupid exceptional readings so I imagine learning the on/kunyomi patterns that early is also the point where it’s the least useful

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Oh really? Perfect then, I can just leave it until later. Thanks!

Yeah I’ve started to notice that, cheers!

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Not a Chinese speaker (at least not for the foreseeable next couple of years :P), but I can definitely second this.


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