Which reading to answer with?

When I’m asked for a reading in the review, how can I tell which reading to answer with? I seem to be getting it wrong from time to time on guessing if I should be choosing on’yomi or kon’yomi readings.

When it is a kanji review you should answer with the reading you were taught in the lesson (usually on’yomi, sometimes kun’yomi), though you will not be marked wrong if you enter a valid other reading (just don’t add typical okurigana).

For vocab there is usually only one reading. In compounds usually on’yomi, though kun’yomi compounds also occur. Sometimes more that one reading is correct. But you will then get both in lessons.
Single kanji vocab usually takes a kun’yomi, as well as verbs are usually kun’yomi

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The review after the lessons I understand, but after a while with the reviews once I have learnt both has been challenging for me on which to choose.

I find that if I input kun’yomi reading it’ll throw up an error saying we’re looking for the on’yomi reading. But not if I input the on’yomi when it was meant to be kun’yomi.

I think my confusion is maybe what it means with a Kanji reading and vocabulary reading. It might be obvious to others, but I am struggling getting my head round it to understand the difference.

I’m level 12 and I still don’t understand why they can’t accept both readings. They’re both correct, so why not letting us input either one? We’ll eventually learn the other reading through vocabulary, anyway. It’s annoying, so I understand your frustration.

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I think for me I just want to understand which one I am meant to put. I don’t want it to accept both as that would make me lazy and keep using the same one over and over. But for me I don’t understand which to use. :frowning:
I know both, so when I get it wrong because I don’t understand the question, it’s a blow.

I think it is a matter of wanting you to learn one specific reading, before learning the others. Otherwise you might not ever learn the first one. I know I forget the second reading whenever two are offered in lessons. So I imagine if I already know one reading yhat is not their main reading, I will likely never learn it and be thoroughly surprised in vocab.

Have you noticed the different background colors? Pink for kanji, purple for vocab.
I have also headd kanji and vocab compared to greek/latin roots. So for example let’s say ‘2’ is a kanji. On’yomi(greek) would be ‘bi’ and kun’yomi(english) would be ‘two’ and then the ‘bi’ reading will show up in compound words, like bipedal, bisexual, bilateral and so on, paired eith different greek/latin roots

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If you’re asking about the actual difference between “Kanji reading” (typically on’yomi) and “Japanese reading” (typically kun’yomi) then that is a question nobody has actually addressed yet.

Put simply, the kanji reading is the Chinese reading, which is why words like 上 (うえ) are taught as じょう, 子 (こ) is taught as し, etc.

Basically, the purple background vocabulary words are how you’d read that word in the real world. The pink background kanji readings are how you would read the kanji inside of another word.

It’ll make more sense as you level up and get exposed to more words, like 以上 (いじょう = exceeding, more than / that’s all).

There’s lots of good resources for learning about this online that some nice person will likely link for you!


If I rarely come across the first one, then it’s not even useful to learn that reading in detriment of the other. That’s why I added that we’ll eventually learn both through vocabulary. They let you input synonyms, right? It should be the same for the readings. Just my opinion.

The kanji readings are the on’yomi and kun’yomi ones generally associated with the kanji, but it’s worth noting that kanji by themselves are just symbols, free of context. The vocabulary entries are actual words and how they are pronounced, and kanji in them may use either reading, and may even use an exceptional reading, like in 大人, which is pronounced おとな.

There are rules of thumb that you can use to make educated guesses: if multiple kanji appear together without any kana, the word is likely to be what’s called a jukugo, which use on’yomi readings. If there is kana attached to the kanji, or the word is made of a single kanji, it’s probably kun.

Either way, it’s only a general rule to which there are a lot of exceptions. Don’t assume you know the vocabulary reading until you’ve read the vocabulary lesson page, which will tell you if the rules of thumb above apply or not. If they do, easy, if they don’t, memorize the exception.

For vocabulary, you are learning how to say a particular word - usually there’s only one correct way to do this, while a particular kanji might have many different ways it can be read.

Usually, a word (vocabulary item) made up of multiple kanji will use the on’yomi for each, while a word made up of a single kanji will use the kun’yomi. This isn’t always the case, but it’s a good rule of thumb; as you get further you’ll become better able to remember the exceptions, and you’ll also naturally get a better feel for these guidelines.

A word made up of kanji + hiragana will usually use the kun’yomi as well - e.g. verbs like 動く. Again, not always the case! Most notably for する verbs, I think.


also じる/ずる verbs and a second class of する verbs (single kanji, instead of compound kanji like most する verbs.)

Could you give an example of not so useful readings you learned first? (it could also mean that you haven’t been exposed to enough vocabulary yet).

Also, you shouldn’t be getting a kanji reading wrong by inputting either the on or kun reading. The screen should shake and it should ask for the other reading instead. Only vocabulary require specific readings, because as others have said, those are actual words and not symbols that have various usages.

Let’s take English as an example. I think if you ask an English speaker what sound an ‘i’ makes, they will say either ‘eye’ or the sound that the ‘i’ makes in ‘bit’. But if you ask them to read the word ‘I’, they will always say ‘eye’. This is the difference between the kanji and vocab readings. The kanji 人 makes a にん or じん sound. It can also make a ひと sound. For structured learning, WK will force you to input にん or じん and will ask for a different reading if you input ひと. But the vocabulary word 人 is only read as ひと. So WK will mark you incorrect if you input にん or じん, just like you would be wrong in English if you pronounced the word ‘I’ like the ‘i’ in ‘bit’.


Kanji+okurigana always uses kun’yomi. It’s the one exception to the “all rules have exceptions” rule. :slightly_smiling_face:

As @Saida mentioned, ~じる and ~ずる verbs appear to break that rule, but since they’re just variants on する, it’s not actually okurigana.

Way to quote me. That’s not what I said. I said “If I rarely come across the first one, then it’s not even useful to learn that reading in detriment of the other.” I know there are times where we learn one reading with the kanji and then most of the vocab we learn next uses another reading. So, in the end, I think it would be nice to accept both inputs for the kanji.

@lollipophuho unfortunately that is the case. It shakes when I enter kun when ti’s meant to be on but not the other way around.

I think there has been some confusion as to what my question is so might just have to close this thread and think a bit better how to ask. I want to ask what the question is asking. Not what a on or kun reading is and how they work. I do appreciate people’s time and explanations though. Thanks guys.


So, being asked about a kanji is different from being asked about a word. A kanji will always have a pink background.

If it’s a kanji, it shouldn’t matter which reading you put in: so long as you enter a correct reading, it will either be marked correct or shake and ask you for another reading. It’s usually looking for the on’yomi, but not always. You will never be marked incorrect for giving an alternative reading, regardless of whether it is on or kun.

If you are asked about a word, you will need to answer the correct way to read that word. It may be a single kanji, but if the background is purple it is asking you how to read the word. In most cases that will be the kun’yomi, but not all; that’s just something you’ll have to learn when you learn the word.

Does… does that answer your question? Pink = kanji (doesn’t matter which, though will shake if it wants a different one), while purple = word (it matters and will be specific to the word).

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Except verbs like 愛する do not get conjugated like する verbs, but like -す(godan) verbs

I wasn’t trying to misrepresent or attack your comment in any way. I am sorry if it came across like that

Etymology does crazy things sometimes. It’s still a weird kind of する pretending to be a す verb.