Kata or Hou

I remember a wonderful guide when to use jin and when to use nin. I was hoping that there is an explanation when to use kata resp. hou. For instance “shikata” (way of doing) versus “ryouhou” (both ways, parties). I cannot seem to find a common denominator when to use which. Any thoughts?

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I believe ほう is used for comparing and かた for describing.

ご飯 の方(ほう)がおいしい
Rice is tastier.


the way of making / how to make.

Edit: there are defenetly more ways to use this word though.

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hou is on’yomi, kata is kun’yomi. If you look up where kun vs on’yomi are used, that should clarify when to use hou vs kata.

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both my examples are combinations of two kanji and therefore should use onyomi - at least to the extend of my understanding of this rule - which is often broken with body parts and other things using kunyomi unfortunately, but maybe you could elaborate?

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Don’t forget that 方 as かた can also be a polite term for person. So you want to make sure not to confuse its other meanings with this.


Unfortunately I don’t think there’s anything as clean as you’re hoping for. ほう and かた are used slightly differently, but not really in a way that I can describe well.

I think @Hyva’s explanation is a good start but it’s way more blurry than that and there’s a lot of overlap…ほう tends to be more directional/spatial, maybe, and かた more about the way things are done?

One thing that might help is going through the definitions here to get a feel for things but whether it’s worth the effort or not is another matter.

I’m not sure what to say beyond “if you get exposed to it enough it will start to make sense” :sweat:


The “Way of doing” ones have visible hiragana in them, so usually that means they are kunyomi. 食べ方, 話し方, やり方, etc.

If there are hiragana involved in the compound then, that switches the likelihood from onyomi to kunyomi.

The tricky part, for beginners, is when 方 is all by itself, not part of a compound. Figuring out if it’s ほう or かた in that scenario is usually tougher initially.


Tell me about it. For example, 日本の方 is a polite way of saying “Japanese person” when the reading is かた, but “Japan’s side” when the reading is ほう.


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