My nemesis, 月, and how to overcome his evil ways

So if anyone was around many years ago, they may (although probably not) remember that my wall of shame was ALWAYS plastered with some vocabulary word containing the 月 kanji. The reason for this was that I would always get mixed up between the readings がつ and げつ.

Some lovely friends always made fun of me for it and yet no one at the time could give me any hints about how to recall which reading to use when. :’)

WELL, when I was reintroduced to this vocabulary I shouted in agony. “Noooo! My nemesis has returned to haunt meeeee!!!” My husband (Japanese) looked at me with great confusion. Clearly he couldn’t understand the severity of this situation. Of course he couldn’t! He’s long since forgotten the struggles of learning Kanji. Pfft. Privileged Japanese guy. (Fun fact, it took me like 2 minutes to recall the word “privileged”. Guess my English also needs work)…

ANYWAY, when I explained the situation to him he looked very underwhelmed and said very matter of factly, “You use がつ when it comes after a number and げつ otherwise.” …I felt stupid. I sat there thinking for a moment… Was I really so blind!? But then, AHA! I had seen a flaw in his ways. “But what about 何月?? Hmmm??? 何 isn’t a number, yet it’s read as がつ” and he calmly replied, “That’s because it’s taking the place of a number; asking for one. You reply with 一月、二月, etc.”

…Welp. I feel really dumb now but empowered with this new knowledge, I won’t struggle with 月 anymore! …I hope.

And maybe someone else has already realized this in the past 6 years since I last was here but if not then I hope that this might help someone else who struggled as I had. :turtle:


WOW! I never realised that! Thank you so much for sharing this!


This esoteric knowledge will prove valuable. Much obliged.


I’m glad to see you guys find this useful. I was a bit nervous people would be like, “No sh*t, sherlock.” hahahaha.


No, im glad you shared this! I never pick up on things like this, i just go through and learn each individually. This should make my reviews a bit easier, and every little bit counts.


AHHHHH! (◎_◎;)

Quick! Ask him how to tell にん and じん apart! They haunt my days!


Omg omg omg… There are so many things like this… Can’t think of any right now other than hito bito nin jin… Ugh…I still hate that one…

I wish the crabigator would share this with you when you do the lessons! This secret tribal info seems to be only kept for the secret club native speakers only… Lol

It wouldn’t surprise me if this simple method is how the reading is taught to kids in school.

Thank you for sharing this tidbit! Excellent!


I’ve been suffering due to this kanji too so your tip really helped

Unrelated, but is your dp kurose… :star_struck:


I made a video about the 人 kanji, which has a part about rules of thumb at the end, but I don’t know how helpful it is because of the nature of most 人 compounds. It’s more meant as information than as a guide to predicting the readings.


にん and じん will haunt me until the day I die


What about 一ヶ月? It has a number and uses げつ. :frowning:


yessssssss, thank you!

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What about 一ヶ月? It has a number and uses げつ. :frowning:

He said, “Are you blind?? The number isn’t directly in front of the kanji!” hahahaha. (This is his personality, don’t take offense to his humor. <3) And thinking on it now, this is also probably my fault for misquoting him. I’m pretty sure he said “がつ is for when a number is in front of the kanji.”

Apparently that’s why, though. :woman_shrugging:

Quick! Ask him how to tell にん and じん apart! They haunt my days!

@Kieroni He seemed stumped on this one. May take awhile before I can get an answer on that one, haha. But perhaps Leebo’s guide can help.

Unrelated, but is your dp kurose… :star_struck:

@Harik0 Indeed it is. :smirk:


I think you and your husband just saved my life. Thank you very much, I owe a great debt to you both now.


I’m just happy to help! :hugs:
Not sure about my husband. But he seemed mildly pleased when I told him people liked the wisdom he gave me that I shared. :stuck_out_tongue:


This is not a hard rule but I find that にん will usually go with transient states whereas じん is used when the first part of the kanji compound is part of that thing’s essence and is unchangeable.

白人(はくじん)white person

this approach also gives you insight into the way Japanese people view certain things. For example

Edit: As @Leebo pointed out my approach is highly speculative and not based on any existing rules so just take this comment in passing.


These are coincidental in most cases. If the mnemonics help you, that’s great, but you’ll have plenty of exceptions, or have to contort the frameworks you described to fit the ones that don’t seem to fit easily. Only the words where it’s a true suffix have solid rules. The others are just based on when the word entered the language from Chinese. So, 変人’s reading isn’t a commentary on Japanese thoughts about weirdos, but an artifact of borrowing the word at a given time.


What about 正月 tho


It stands for new year’s day, it has a “number” because it’s a day


Ooh, thanks, this is actually quite helpful! I know there are a lot of “rule 4” exception words so to speak, but knowing the other rules helps to cut down on the number of words whose readings must be hammered in. Memorizing fewer arbitrary readings makes it much easier to do so. :v: