How do I know if Kanji reading is ON or KUN?


You know what reading is On yomi or reading Kun yomi? Have you ever wondered how the Japanese can read the text without misspelling or stumbling? If you have been studying Japanese for some time, you should know that kanji, or ideograms, are imported from Chinese, and have several pronunciations.

Japanese language Kanji is divided into 2 Readings:

  • On yomi (音読み) - Reading by sound - These are the readings of Chinese origin;
  • Kun yomi (訓読み) - Semantic reading   - Are readings of Japanese origin;

Because? When the Chinese ideograms were imported into Japan, the Japanese associated the words already used in Japanese with the ideograms, and also associated and converted the Chinese readings into the Japanese ideograms.

See the example of the ideogram east (東). In Chinese it is said dong, this   was converted to Japanese as I'm becoming a read ON. However, the Japanese already used higashi or azuma to refer to the east, then this ideogram ended up gaining these 3 and other pronunciations. Remember that reading ON will always be written in Katakana, while reading KUN in hiragana.


Tip on how to know when to pronounce ON and KUN

It is impossible to know precisely when to use ON or KUN reading in the word without knowing it. However, there is a tip that works in most words, but it is worth making it clear that it does not apply to 100% of cases.

To know the reading most of the times keep in mind the following:

  • ON - It is & nbsp; read when the Kanji is accompanied by another;
  • KUN - It is read when Kanji is accompanied by a hiragana;
  • The custom is to read every word using the on, but & nbsp; in some cases it can end with kun;

When ideograms are usually isolated, they are verbs or individual words that had their origin in ancient Japanese. The ON reading most of the time is when an ideogram is next to another, because the readings ON usually have & nbsp; 1 syllable, or as the name says, a sound.

Verbs, suffixes & prefixes usually read KUN. Remembering that a reading can also vary. please note that names of people they usually have other readings besides ON and KUN.

Examples with Kanji

Below see how knowing this will help us to identify the kanji reading. Also see how this tip doesn't work 100% at times.

  • 学 - on - gako / kun - mana (study, learn)
    • 学校 - gakkou - school (Used a variation of on, because it is accompanied by a kanji.)
    • 学ぶ - mannabu - to learn - used kun because it is accompanied by a hiragana (it is a verb);
  • 大 - on - so / kun - oo (Large)
    • 大好き -sosuki (Used the on, because it is accompanied by a kanji.)
    • 大き - ooki (Used the kun, because it is accompanied by a hiragana.)
  • 日 - on - nichi, jitsu / kun - hi, _bi, _ka & nbsp; (sun)
    • 日曜日 - nichiyoubi (He started using on. finished using kun even accompanying a kanji.)
  • 人 - on - Jin, Nin, / kun - _to, hito, _ri (Person)

For this reason it is important that we know the vocabulary, not all kanji are applied to this tip.

  • Whenever you find a kanji followed by a hiragana, remember that most times, you should read the kun.
  • And when you encounter & nbsp; several & kbs, most of the time you & nbsp; read & nbsp; o on but & nbsp; have cases ending with kun;

Knowing this makes us more confident in reading, it means that we are not lost when trying to discover how to read a word.

Why did I decide to write this article? To this day, I have never found this small and simple tip in any book or course. Knowing when reading is ON or KUN helps a lot in learning ideograms and pronouncing unknown words. What do you think of this tip? Have you realized that it is so? If you need more tips, we recommend reading the similar kanji.

Another tip that will help you discover the reading of unknown Japanese ideograms is the phonetic components, click here to read about them.