Vocabulary vs. Kanji in context

New WK student here! I’m having trouble discerning whether I should use the vocabulary reading or the kanji reading when everything’s strung together in a sentence. Does anybody have tips for deciphering which reading to use? It’s easy when there’s a purple background or a pink background behind it, but not so easy when I’m trying to read a sentence.
This is probably a newbie question! Haha

When you’re reading a sentence, there are only vocabulary, unless the sentence is about kanji.

As in like 「国」という字は、書くのが意外と難しいですね。なかなかバランスが取れない。

In that sentence, you’d probably say くに where that character is, which is also the same as the vocab word, but it doesn’t mean “country” in the same way, you’re just using that reading to indicate which kanji you’re talking about.


Hi, thanks for the reply! So I’m guessing it’s a lot more important to memorize the vocabulary reading than the kanji reading for practical use then?

its important to memorize both. Give it some time and you’ll come to understand the relation between the two


Well, the kanji are building blocks to the vocabulary. But they only teach you one reading during the lesson so as to not overwhelm you. There isn’t just one “kanji reading” in reality. Unless the kanji coincidentally has only one reading. Then it’s always just read exactly the same.


Right, okay that makes sense. I probably need a lot more practice, because I get the onyomi and kunyomi readings mixed up! Thanks for your feedback.

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Just to make sure this is clear to you, there is no “kanji” reading and “vocabulary” reading, both of the readings your learn are simply “readings” and different words use different readings. If you make further progress you’ll encounter situations where the vocabulary uses the reading you learned with the kanji. Good luck!


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