Why is the vocab reading longer then the kanji when they mean the same?

I’m talking about this for example.

This kanji 正 means correct so i’m wondering why the vocab reading is longer 正しい when the vocab still just means correct.

Like what’s the point of adding しい to 正. Why can’t i use just use 正 like it is now when forming a sentence if both mean correct?

I’ve seen many examples like this and i’m kind of confused.

The kanji, though it holds the meaning, is often just part of the word in vocab. That way it can be conjugated without having separate kanji (the hiragana sticking out tells you the rest)
Other times the kanji reading is simply just part of the word.

The hiragana sticking out gives you nuances and sometimes completely different meanings (going from is to isn’t, or difference between cheap and relax which share a kanji)

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Welcome to the site!

While it’s true that the kanji 正 means correct, it’s just a symbol. It’s just glyph that stands for the concept of “correct.” It’s not a word.

The word for correct is ただしい. You can write it with hiragana like that, and that’s totally correct (hehe).

But since 正 is a common kanji that all Japanese people learn right away at school, you usually won’t see it written in just hiragana. You’ll see 正 used to write it, but you can’t just use that symbol alone, because of how Japanese works.

Japanese adjectives and verbs can be conjugated. That is, they can change their form, often based on time (but also for other things).

For instance “is correct” is ただしい, but “was correct” is ただしかった. It’s the same word, but conjugated for time. The end part changed, and so being able to see that end part is pretty important.

Next, if you wrote all of the things that can be expressed with the idea of “correct” as 正 alone, that would get pretty confusing.

There’s also the verb ただす which means “to correct.”

By writing the adjective ただしい as 正しい and the verb ただす as 正す, you can quickly identify which word it is, and you can see that it’s related to “correctness.” You can also see their ends so when they’re conjugated, that element is clear.

There are some words where the whole thing is composed of just the one kanji, but they aren’t いadjectives or verbs, so you never would need to conjugate them.

Studying Japanese grammar will make some of this make more sense, I think.


正しい is in fact an adjective, and you need the extra hiragana for conjugations (like 正しく)

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Thanks for the replies, i now have a clear understanding of how it works.


…like there are parts of English words that mean something… but not on their own. Like ‘aqua’ you know means water in words like aquatic or aquarium. But you can’t use it on its own.


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