New People Questions! ~~~<3 [Lost?! Confused?! We're here to help!]

Kanji mainly have onyomi and kunyomi (readings). The former is sino-Japanese, originated in China, and are used primarily for compounds. The latter originated in Japan is used primarily for ordinary words. Take, for example, 生, meaning life. It has onyomi せい and しょう, which are used in words such as 先生 (せんせい), teacher, and 誕生日 (たんじょうび), birthday. It has (among many others) kunyomi い and う, used in words like 生きる(いきる), to live, and 生まれる(うまれる), to be birthed.

Kanji have two readings (usually). The on’yomi reading is based on the original Chinese reading of the character. The kun’yomi is a Japanese reading. Different words use different readings. An example would be the kanji 日 (sun or day). In the vocabulary word 一日 (one day) it’s read as にち with the word being read いちにち using the on’yomi readings. But in the word 日 (sun or day) it is read ひ using the kun/yomi reading.

For a short answer: usually you will hear on’yomi as a part of compound words (or Jukugo), so you will hear them often. Knowing them is more helpful for reading though… (in general). Especially since so many sounds are repeated. You may be able to guess what the word is… That’s often how Japanese puns are made, too. : D

I’ve linked to a few posts on On’yomi vs. Kun’yomi up in the OP that you might also want to check out.


(I’m on mobile right now so not going to happen for a few days. Busy weekend. Will Wiki this post too once it’s set up. : ) )

Another question from me! Thanks to all who have been so patient with the amount of questions I’ve had.

I finished my studies on hiragana and feel fairly confident. I work on my lessons very slowly while also studying katakana. I’m just starting to get into the kanji on level one and I noticed that the reading of several of them (construction, nine, and mouth, for example) have the same reading (ku). How would you differentiate these kanji in a sentence? Context clues?


Do you mean in a spoken sentence? There are lots of homonyms in Japanese, but 工 and 口 are never homonyms as standalone characters, because 工 is usually not a word on its own (except as a pretty obscure vocab word), and 口 by itself has the reading of くち, not こう.

こう is a reading you will only hear for either character when they appear in compounds, where they do create a homonym when combined with 人.

人工 (artificial) and 人口 (population) are both pronounced じんこう. But as you guessed, context should clear any confusion up.

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OH. I forgot that only some of the kanji are also words! Thanks so much, this was very helpful!

Out of curiosity, how are you using kanji/hiragana on your posts?

I just have the Microsoft Japanese IME enabled on my laptop. So I can switch between typing with the typical English keyboard and the Japanese phonetic IME. If you google it, I’m sure you’ll find a guide to enabling it, if you use Windows.

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I prefer the Google Japanese IME.

@viridianflare also keep an eye (ear) out for pitch! As Leebo said, context can help, but you can also use pitch to tell the two apart. じんこう in 人工 goes low -> high, but in 人口 it goes high -> low.

Pitch accent is fickle though, since it varies by dialect. I assume all the audio here on WK is standard Tokyo accent, but I’ve never seen that confirmed for myself. At any rate, when you encounter homonyms on WK, check out the audio. It could give you one more way to differentiate them!

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Hello hello!
First post here, haven’t gotten far into my japanesee learning.

I was just wondering about rehearsing kaniwani items before reviews, is this a bad habit?
I’ve been going through my items a couple of times in between and before reviews to make sure I know everything well, but will this hurt the whole SRS process?

It’s definitely counter to the SRS. The point of the SRS is to make you recall things right on the verge of forgetting them.

Okay, I’ll definitely stop doing it then. Thanks

What you can do, is spend more time studying the items at lesson time. After that, you can trust in the SRS system to do it’s job with items you have trouble with. (To an extent. If you have items that just don’t click over a long time, it’s better to go ahead and spend some more time studying them.)

Yeah I will start doing that. I guess you just have to let yourself fail a bit every so often. I suppose it is better to let the SRS do its thing in the long run. Would you say it’s okay to study the items a little bit right after reviewing if I have problems with some of them?

I typically allow myself to study before the first review of something. For example, I take the lesson for the kanji for “one”. 4 hours later, I have a review coming up for it, so anytime before I take that review, I let myself study it over and over. After that review is past, I don’t do it anymore so the SRS can kick in.

Learning the item the first time is the most time consuming part, so doing it this way helps me learn it much faster and I haven’t had a retention problem. Everyone is different though.

Okay, I see. Thanks!

I’m not sure where you heard that, but both 人工 and 人口 are heiban words (low, high, high, high). They have 4 sounds each, so they couldn’t be low, high or high, low anyway.

Here’s a source for the pronunciation. The 0 next to the word means it’s heiban, so there’s no accent (no fall in pitch from high to low at any point).

Oh god…
So I hit level 2, and there is so much stuff. I feel so overwhelmed…
I did lessons for like 15 items, but that was only like half.
When reviewing I had 4/16 correct vocab or something like that… Should I just keep doing the lessons, and reviewing the same way I have been, or should I change the way I’m doing things? This feels like it really won’t work in the long run, and I’m worried I won’t learn anything while the items just keep stacking up. I kinda hope this is how srs works, but 26% correct just doesn’t feel good… I’m getting the onyomi and kunyomi confused a lot…

Maybe I should start with not doing this when I’m super tired…

Oh shoot, you’re right. I should’ve checked my dictionary before posting that. When I said low -> high, I meant that it starts low and goes high for the rest of the word, and vice versa. I should’ve been more explicit.

But then can you do me a favor? Listen to the audio here on WK for 人口, does that not sound like (high low low low)? To me it sounds different from the audio for 人工. That’s what I based my post on, and assumed it was correct without checking the dictionary. Maybe that speaker speaks a different dialect?

@viridianflare Leebo’s right, I’m sorry for the misinformation. Moral is find a dictionary that gives you pitch information and go by that.

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