Jin Nin... pattern?

So I’ve been stumbling with Jin Nin on Master-Enlightened as I just forget it and I end up just guessing the Jin or Nin.

However I just read this from a post about this:


This has been brought up a few times before. Someone pointed out that quite often ‘jin’ is used for words where there’s more of a sense of permanence, and ‘nin’ for things that are more temporary. This isn’t totally reliable but I’ve found it’s a good rule of thumb.

So for example, things like アメリカ人 (American person) or 黒人 (Black person) use ‘jin’ because being of a nationality or race is obviously a fairly permanent state of being. Something like 病人 (sick person) or 住人 (resident) use ‘nin’ because those aren’t necessarily something permanent.

Again, not a hard and fast rule, but I’ve found it helps.


I was hoping however that someone might be able to build off this and add to it?


The only time there’s a pattern is when it’s a true suffix.

[place name]人 = じん
[number]人 = にん
[action]人 = にん

If it’s anything else, like in 他人, where it’s not a suffix, just the second kanji of a 2-kanji compound, or 人性, where it’s the first kanji, then there is no pattern. The readings are based on when the word was imported into the Japanese language from Chinese. にん is an older reading and じん is newer.

So, you have to do the heavy lifting yourself to come up with mnemonics in those cases, since there isn’t a rhyme or reason to them.

As with all leeches though, I feel like the best thing to do is go and make your weaknesses your strengths. Go and read tons of example sentences with the words you’re getting wrong, to the point where it would sound completely wrong to you to even consider the opposite reading.


I don’t know about a pattern, sadly, but I saw someone on the forums once recommend making a story about a guy named Jean/じん and using that character to remember which words use じん, and that’s helped me a lot as a mnemonic. I will never forget my 宇宙人の名人 愛人. :joy_cat:


This is good advice. たじん for 他人 just sounds wrong to me now.

It’s pretty much how I do English, after listening to it every day for 10 years, I just know if something sounds right, even if for the love of me I can’t recall what the formula for the 3rd conditional looks like.

Just FYI this little tid bit has become more and more useful… just saying.

I have a list started based around this, I won’t have it done anytime soon, but surely sometime after hitting 60 when I’m going to tone back how many reviews I do everyday to work on other things.

Very interesting list, looking forward to sharing it.