Whats the difference between kanji reading and vocab reading

unless i missed it i didnt see the answer in the faq and im getting annoyed with how many times its tells me im wrong because it wanted kunyomi instead of onyomi or vice versa


In most cases, kanji reading asks for the on’yomi and vocab reading for a single kanji asks for the kun’yomi. The on’yomi is the Chinese reading, and the reading you’ll use generally when you find several kanji together, while the kun’yomi is the Japanese reading, and one you’ll use more often when a kanji is alone.

That’s why, for example, 山 is read サン on the kanji reading (on’yomi), but やま on the vocabulary reading (kun’yomi). Yet if you find 火山 you read it かざん, using the on’yomi. In this case, サン would be mountain as a part of a word, while やま means mountain as a word. If you were to say “a mountain”, you’d say やま, but to say “mount fuji” you’d say ふじさん.

It’s a bit difficult to grasp in the beginning, but you’ll get a good grasp on it as you advance :smiley:


knew what onyomi and kunyomi were but thanks, it was that beginning part that answered

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A kanji is just a character that can be used to make words, so it can be read differently depending on the word it’s in. The “kanji reading” taught here is what’s considered the most common reading (most times it’s on’yomi, sometimes kun’yomi). The “vocab reading” is the specific reading that kanji has in that specific word.

For example, you probably learned the kanji for “person”, 人. WK teaches two readings, にん and じん, which are the most common. But the actual reading depends on the word: in the word “person”, 人, it is read ひと, in the word “alone”, 一人, it is read り, and in the word “population”, 人口, it is read じん, which is the one you learned with the kanji.

Long story short, you need to know which reading is used in each word.


Items looking for the kanji reading you’ve learned will have a pink background in the reviews. Items looking for the vocabulary reading you’ve learned will have a purple background in the reviews. This system is also mirrored in the lessons. Hopefully that answers your question. :smile:


Vocab are words and phrases. Generally there is only one way to read them whether it’s the kunyomi, like in 山, or the onyomi, like in 本. You can’t just read those as the other readings when they appear in a sentence.

Was wondering what the point of learning the kanji reading was, and this seems to make sense. Thanks!

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