Rule for 人 when to use じん −にん –ひと

Struggling with above and hope for some tips. Thx!

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I would be interested in something too. But, from what I’ve looked up so far, seems like it’s just memorizing. And that the reason that it’s that way is because there is the Chinese, “old” Japanese, and “new” Japanese (some dynasty had changed the pronunciation of 人 but didn’t get them all). I murdered that explanation lol, but can’t remember the technical terms.

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I don’t think there’s a rule. If anything, I get the feeling that the にん reading is used when referring to some role or function, as in 役人 or 料理人. But this is definitely more a tendency than a hard rule. For memorisation, I try to make up mnemonics with “ninja” when the にん reading is used. For the cook (料理人) for example, I image a kitchen ninja who is chopping ingredients with his ninja-to.

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Unfortunately there aren’t any set rules, you just need to memorize the readings for the words 人 is used in, but there are a couple general trends

人 as a standalone word will be read as ひと, also when included as a standalone word in vocab (ex: woman: 女の人 = おんなのひと)

When referring to a permanent trait, such as nationality/race/origin, you’ll likely see じん (ex: American:アメリカ人 = アメリカじん)

When referring to a trait that can change, such as an occupation/role or physical state, or as a counter for people, you’ll likely see にん (ex: chef: 料理人 = りょうりにん, sick person: 病人 = びょうにん, three people: 三人 = さんにん)

However, as I mentioned these are just general tendencies, not set rules. Memorization and vocab reinforcement is the way to go :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:


Thx guys!
Helpful indeed.
Permanent versus Temporary vs Counting.
Will definitely remember!!
Happy NewYear to y’all!!

And I thought I understood it until coming upon 人口

じんこう not にんこう


Here’s a real short version: The older readings, the Go’on 呉音 readings, in this case にん came to Japan through Korea and Buddhism. Later on the 漢音 Kan’on readings came directly from China, during the late Tang dynasty mainly, and so Japan was like, “Shit, these are the real pronunciations, we need to get rid of those old shitty ones.”

Like you said, this didn’t work completely. But also there were many strata of loans, so also words created or imported later may use one or the other.

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I assume Pinocchio is the reason for 人形

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