Words and terms with associated kanji that opt for kana instead?

I’m still pretty early on in my learning, so maybe I’m just missing some kind of nuance, but are there times where words are more often written in kana vs kanji? For example, I see 出来る written as できる more often, even though those are some of the first kanji I learned. I’ve just learned 様 but I haven’t seen it attached to a name before. Can anyone clear this up for me? Thanks!

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Yeah it seems that sometimes kana are used more than the kanji. But I don’t really know the rule, but in general really complicated kanji are replaced by kana. Such as きれい often used instead of 綺麗.
I also see 子ども instead of 子供. A friend of mine said it’s because the domo in kodomo has a negative connotation in Japanese, so they prefer not to use this kanji.

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It’s mostly just convention and stylistic choice - any word that uses kanji can be written in kana if the writer so desires, and sometimes people will try to be fancy/formal/whatever and write a word that’s usually written in kana in kanji.

One exception is auxiliary verbs: they’re written in kana. So while 行く and 来る on their own use kanji, you’d write 持っていく or 持ってくる instead of 持って行く or 持って来る.

As for 様, that’s definitely regularly used. I see it all the time in manga.


For words like 出来る it’s more of a stylistic choice, I think. I’ve seen both - できる in NHK articles and 出来る in Tobira, which tries to use kanji where appropriate. Sometimes using kana makes the conjugation clearer and for 出来る that’s kind of important. Unless, there is something about 出来る as a standalone verb and できる used in ことができる and する compounds in their potential form.

There are words which have kanji, but often the kanji are considered either “hard” or use non-standard pronunciation so kana circumvents this issue. For verbs with overlapping pronunciations (same kana) or different meanings for the same kana/kanji, one of the meanings may be linked to the kana form of a verb (for instance, かかる).

Onomatopoeia are a special case, because some do have kanji, or 1 kanji + the 々 repeater, but hiragana or katakana, especially, are valid to emphasize the vocal aspect of the word.

Found a nice example in the article I’m just reading:
Here つくる is the same 作る that means “to make”, but in the context of the sentence it means “to form”. It could’ve been written with kanji, but wasn’t even though the 作 kanji is simple.

Looks like sometimes it can be a little arbitrary, because in the same article I found ことし in a place where kanji wouldn’t have been a problem :man_shrugging: .


I could be wrong here, but I also feel like at times kana is used just to make sentences appear not too complex, especially with media aimed at younger audiences


If you search for a word on jisho, it has a tag that says “usually written with kana alone”.

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