How to know whether to use Onyomi or Kunyomi when speaking?

Hi Guys, I’m just wondering when you are speaking Japanese how do you know whether to use the Onyomi or Kunyomi of a Kanji in a sentence?

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When you’re speaking, you pronounce words the way that words are pronounced. You’re not thinking about whether it’s on’yomi or kun’yomi.

To give an example, suppose you’re saying a sentence in English and the word “circle” is coming up soon. You don’t stop to think about whether the Cs are soft Cs or hard Cs, you just know that “circle” sounds like “sirkle” and say it like that.


In addition to what @Belthazar said, when you learn a word, if it has hiragana in it, it is usually the くん reading, and is it doesn’t, it is usually the おん reading.

But yeah. When speaking, you just go based on the words you have memorized

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You don’t say the individual kanji, you say the words. And the words will either be on’yomi or kun’yomi, or on/kun compounds…

If you are confused between two words (usually verbs) that seem like synonyms, but one is kun, and the other on, usually kun’yomi is the more common version to use in casual speech. But really just use whatever comes to mind first, so you don’t get stuck finding the best word every conversation and not getting anywhere. Just start talking, and the responses will give you a lot of clues whether you used the right word, and usually your meaning will get across!


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