How do I know the difference?

I’m sure this has been asked before by other newbies, but after learning all of the kanji and vocabularies of level one, I’ve already come across a few kanji and vocabularies that are the same.
人口 and 人工 for instance. These share the same kana and from what I heard they also sounded the same judging by the sound files. How do I make the distinction between them during a spoken conversation? Is the distinction between them solely based on context?


Can you guess which of the two was meant? Of course many sentences will be a little more complicated, but if your grammar and vocab are sufficient you will be able to grasp the general meaning of a sentence, and be able to infer which homonym is meant. So yes, it will be context based. But in conversation there is nothing wrong with asking for clarification, if you feel you are missing important information.



Is that a place to keep money?
Is it the side of a river?
Is it a verb describing a tilting motion?

Does it matter in isolation? You’d understand if I used any of them in a sentence.

I went to the bank to make a deposit.
I sat on the bank with my friends.
Take it to 10000 feet and then bank to the right.


@Leebo - well said (applauding)
As said, we all do this everyday without blinking an eye, in English at least (and it would be interesting to know if any language managed to void itself of homonyms).

I sympathise with your @Roxanne13579 question and I was also asking similar “but how can I know??” questions not too long ago, but you can trust us, or @Leebo at least, you don’t need to concern yourself with this. Context is a powerhouse of meaning and if it ever left you lost, which would be rare, you can always ask.

If anything, I feel it’s a bit unrealistic (for me anyway) learning on WK with the words in isolation, so I am spending more time with the sample sentences (which Kouichi & co have made pretty fun) and recently making flashcards (Anki) with sentences to help me remember a sense of the words (using too for sentences), more than the definition. This helps me remember in addition to the mnemonics, but there are also unexpected usages which make it more interesting.


nods right :slight_smile: So it’s indeed not all that different from homonyms. I was worried that there were perhaps slight pitch changes that would make the distinction, haha


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