On'yomi or Kun'yomi in invocation?

(I’m sure you’re starting hating me :sweat_smile:)

This is an easy one (I hope): when I’m saying “Oh moon, you’re so beautiful tonight” in Japanese, do I use on’yomi or kun’yomi for “Oh moon”?
ああがつ or ああつき ?


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When it’s just a word on its own, it’s つき

がつ is used in compounds.


Remember that kun’yomi and on’yomi readings are only relevant when learning new words… the word you use when talking about a thing is… well the word that refers to that thing. The word for moon is つき, which can be written in kanji as 月. Words come first - kanji is just a way to write them. You can’t just use an on’yomi reading for a kanji as a standalone word, you have to make sure it’s an actual word first.


yes, this is true for written words, but I’m interested in speaking

Right, what I’m trying to tell you is that when speaking, on’yomi and kun’yomi is entirely irrelevant because when speaking you’re not dealing with kanji, only words.


thank you again, but the problem is:
we have two ways of saying “moon”: tsuki and gatsu, regardless of the kanji.
we know that when it’s in a sentence we say “the tsuki is beautiful” - no doubts about this rule.
but if I’m talking directly to the moon, what do I say - since I can’t say “kanji-for-moon, you’re beautiful” - do I say “Tsuki, you are beautiful”, or “Gatsu, you are beautiful”?

I don’t know how else to explain this, sorry :sweat_smile:

Right so… there aren’t two ways to say moon, there’s only one: つき.
Rather, the kanji 月 has two readings, and which one is used depends on the word. (Edit: technically I think it has more than 2, but that’s beyond the scope of this discussion)

So you have words like 月(つき) and 今月(こんげつ). In order to read both you need to know both ways of reading the kanji 月. But in order to speak them, you don’t need to know the kanji at all, or even that the two words are related in any way.


Here’s the thing - there’s only one way to say moon and that’s つき. The kanji for moon can be read differently in other words that are related to, but do not mean, moon.

i think this is where you’re misunderstanding.

There aren’t two ways of saying moon. Gatsu doesn’t mean moon.

EDIT: dayum i got double leebo’d


Everyone else pretty much covered it, but I did want to point out something that might be helpful.

The がつ reading is only for numbered months:

January いちがつ 「一月」
February にがつ - 「二月 」

And asking what month:


The rest of the time it’s going to be げつ like in げつめん 「月面」Moon’s surface.

Also, there’s a quick or short questions thread you can post on if you don’t want to start a new topic each time:

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ooh! so when we are learning new kanji in WK, they tell us that 月 is moon and the on’yomi reading is gatsu, they are somewhat wrong… they should tell us something like: this 月 is read gatsu in compound words, but it’s actual name is tsuki and it’s translation is moon… yone?

Well… wanikani is not wrong, but it does seem that this misunderstanding is quite common. Wanikani is teaching you a kanji and its on’yomi reading. The vocab lessons are where you learn words. Kanji and words are not the same thing.

Edit: maybe it would help to lay out all the information.

There is a kanji, 月. It means moon, or month. It can be read つき、がつ、げつ depending on the word. These are all “readings” of the kanji.

There is a word 月. It is read つき, and it means moon.
There are other words, like 今月 (read こんげつ, meaning “this month”).


OK I get it… let’s say that the kanji is the soul that has no name nor shape, while the word is the person with a name and clothes that change according to the occasion :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:


It’s the other way around. :wink:

がつ and げつ are on’yomi readings and on’yomi is frequently used in compound words.

The kun’yomi reading is つき and kun’yomi is frequently used when the Kanji can also represent a standalone word.

But that’s a bit much to take in when you’re first learning so they don’t really mention it explicitly.

Plus, I said frequently and not always. Welcome to Japanese where exceptions are often the rule. :wink:

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Haha, thanks, but there are so many other languages with almost no rules at all… :laughing:

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That’s a very colorful analogy, I like it.

Another way to see it is that kanji are sort of like using emojis to represent words.

There’s an emoji :eye:.

But we can say “I :eye: you” where it means “I see you”
Or we can say “I have two :eye:s” where it means “I have two eyes.”

How we “read” the emoji depends on the context, and the meaning also changes, but they share a common link in meaning related to eyes/vision. Japanese actually has two separate kanji for these concepts so it’s not the best analogy, but I tried. :man_shrugging:


Aye it’s kind of a hard concept to explain at first, but once you get it everything clicks.

I saw someone else post a similar analogy like:

1st is where 1 is read as “fir” but by itself 1 is “one”

It’s not a perfect analogy either but maybe two imperfect ones will get you there. lol


Its hard to explain but think of it this way. In english, letters have names right. When we read off the alphabet, we are saying the letters names.

Meanings associated with kanji are kind of like giving them names. A certain kanji can sometimes be a standalone word with its own meaning. Think of it like the letter i. i has a few different ways it can be read, but the WORD i is its own standalone thing. It cant be pronounced in any other way like the letter i can be despite being the same exact thing visually. The word has set pronunciation and meaning while the letter just has a name that we call it along with the potential to be read a few different ways.


This is also incorrect because you can have compounds which do not use the On’yomi. 望月、三日月, 月見, 月並 all use つき

Some random other words use がつ as well like正月、月日

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And sometimes げつ :upside_down_face::upside_down_face:

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