Reading sentences

Hi am struggling with being able to read sentences with kanji in them. I know what the kanji is but I’m not sure which readings I’m supposed to use and when. Can anyone help with how to become better as reading comprehension plz and any study material they would recommend to help me understand better.


Well, I’d say the best way to improve reading comprehension is to keep reading :sweat_smile:
Here are some great free resources:

And here’s one that is not free, but is the easiest to jumpstart reading:

Anyway, best of luck with your studies! wricat


Experience really. Read something that either has furigana or it’s a subtitle for something. Though generally you can make an educated guess. There are very few words in practce that have several pronunciations while using the same exact form. Most of the time you can tell the different words apart by seeing what okurigana is attached if any. And in those cases where that isn’t true, you can generally google the difference.


Thank you I’ll check them out

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Thank you one of the issues I have is knowing which reading it is when changing the kanji to hiragana for practice sentences I’m doing.

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This article from Tofugu (WaniKani’s parent company) really helped me understand how Kanji readings work, and the difference/origin between on’yomi and kun’yomi readings. It also explains the term “Jukugo” which you will see on many vocab words here on WaniKani.

There is a lot more to it, but on a basic level:

  1. If a Kanji is a word by itself it usually uses the kun’yomi reading.
  2. If a Kanji has okurigana attached it usually uses the kun’yomi reading. These are typically verbs and adjectives.
  3. If a Kanji is part of a compound word made up of two or more Kanji it usually uses the on’yomi reading. Nature words and cardinal direction compounds are common exceptions, though.

As I’ve read and learnt more vocab inside and outside of WaniKani, I feel like I’ve gotten better at intuiting the right reading for certain Kanji, and I’m sure you will too! However, there are many, many curveballs with readings that do not follow the above logic, hence the italics lol.

And, again, the article goes way more in depth and has numerous examples, so I highly recommend reading it! Happy studying! :slight_smile:


first 10 lvls I remember I was struggling like this as well.

Then I got the gist for the more common reading. Read news articles daily to help you improve.


Thank you for the advice I will take another look through the article again. I think one of the issues was when doing practice sentences I was asked to replace the kanji with hiragana which was where I start getting confused.

Thanks I will

That’s all really helpful “how does the writing system work” background material. I think the one thing I would add is that what you really want to focus on is words and the readings of words, not kanji and kanji readings. If you know enough words you get kanji readings for free, whereas if you don’t know the reading of a word then knowing readings for the kanji used to write it is only ever going to get you to “can make a decent guess at the word reading”.


Sorry I don’t quite understand what you mean. I want to be able to know how to read the kanji in sentences and be able to change it to hiragana as that was part of my lesson. I know the readings but wasn’t sure which one would be correct in the context of the sentence.

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just more reading yeah
also reading with furigana like 青い鳥文庫 or children’s 漫画雑誌

You do not read kanji, you read words. Just like in English, you do not read letters, you read words (which are made up of one or more letters).

For example, you read “read” as a word, which has a specific meaning and way of pronouncing it (which may require some contextual cue and is why I choose this word as it is one that does). You do not read it as “r” then “e” then “a” then “d”.

Kanji are used to write words. Sometimes a word will be written with a single kanji, but more often a word will be written with multiple kanji (most commonly 2) and/or include okurigana. A word has a specific reading (generally there are always exceptions).

For example, the word “人工” is written with two kanji and each of those kanji does have multiple possible readings, but “人工” is a word and is only pronounced one way じんこう. This will never be にんこう or にんく or じんく or ひとこう etc… So, you do not look at “人工” and wonder how do I read 人and how to I read 工, You look at the word and read the word.

When a word is a single kanji, it will have a specific reading for the vocabulary word. For example, “目” is a single kanji word. While the kanji has multiple readings, as a word (vocab) it is only め。

The more you are exposed to Japanese (reading Japanese) the more you see words and not individual kanji. Just think about how in reading this post (presuming you got this far…) you just saw and processed words, not individual letters.

Since Japanese does not use spaces in sentences, you will have to learn the other cues for what separates the words. A lot of beginning learner resources do insert spaces (even some learning resources for young Japanese children). Once you reach the level of starting to see a sentence as a collection of words and not just a string of characters, that will sort itself out. How do you get there? As you will see repeated everywhere in this forum, practice, practice, practice, read, read, read.


When you say “doing practice sentences,” are you referring to a different program/app? Just curious since more specific advice might be offered if this is an issue you’re having in another learning app, I know I’ve had trouble getting used to how different programs ask you to input stuff at times

Also I agree with mgrice’s emphasis on Kanji vs Vocabulary/Words. Kanji in sentences are always, ultimately, parts of words. And it is the words as a whole that you are pronouncing and reading, not Kanji. While there are some patterns of pronunciation, at the end of the day a word is pronounced how it is pronounced. Sometimes you can guess it based on the Kanji (shoutout Jukugo words lol). And sometimes you just have to memorize that word’s more unique pronunciation. I think I’ve used “pronounce” too much, lmao


Yes it’s from a kanji vol book lesson 2 it gives you sentences and you have to replace the kanji with hiragana. I got confused and was using the wrong reading for the kanji in question. I now understand where I went wrong and how to figure out which reading is correct

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Thank you for your explanation I understand what you mean. I get that I need to stop thinking of them by there kanji name and instead remember how they are read it’s just how I processed them while learning.for example I see 山 I think mountain then さん - then やま as that’s how I learnt it so when I saw it in the sentence I thought さん first. I need to have more practice in separating the sentences up so I know which reading it Likely is and understanding the difference between on and kun readings and when each would be the most likely option when in connection with other kanji and when they stand alone

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This is useful to understand and know when encountering a word you have not seen before (or perhaps a word you know you know, but cannot remember the pronunciation of) and making an educated guess as to how it is pronounced. (And what it could mean based on the meanings of the kanji). Bearing in mind the number one rule is that there are exceptions to all rules. However, when learning a new word you will be explicitly told how it is pronounced and there is no need to have to go through any of those exercises when reading it once you have learned it. When you see 理解, you will not see two kanji sitting beside each other. You will just see a single thing (the word) and will know that word is read/pronounced “りかい”. It is a long and slow process, adding a few words to your vocabulary each day.


Thank you again for the explanation this helps alot

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