on’yomi kun’yomi Radicals
さん み.* +

Meaning: Three

There’s the radicals for one and two. What do you get when you combine them? You get three.

This one should be pretty self explanatory!

Reading: さん

I’m going to count to three, then I’m going to whack you with these three sticks, son (さん).

I think a Southern accent goes well with this meaning mnemonic.


a 三(さん)= Three

  • Meaning: This is the same as the kanji.
  • Reading: This is the same as the on’yomi reading of the kanji. Remember that with numbers the reading when it’s just the kanji alone (as a vocab word) is the on’yomi reading, which is the exception to the rule (usually when a kanji is all alone, making up a vocab word like this, it’s the kun’yomi reading). So, if you remember that, you’ll remember to use the on’yomi reading which should be easy because you just learned it with the kanji!

a 三つ(みっつ)= Three (things)

  • Meaning: This is for when you’re counting things. Remember the pattern? Number + つ = counting things counter.
  • Reading: When you’re counting three things, what are you counting? I bet you remember that eight things is counting yachts, and seven is counting your Nanas… Counting three things is for counting yourself. Imagine three versions of you standing there, looking at each other. Can you examine and figure out which one of you is the “real” version of you? It’s “ME!” Wait, it’s “Me Too!” (みつ).

a 三人(さんにん)= Three people

  • Combo: 三 (three) + 人 (person)
  • Meaning: When there are three persons, you get “Three People.”
  • Reading: Both kanji in this word use the on’yomi reading of their kanji. When you see a single vocab word made up of multiple kanji (that are right next to each other, not broken up by hiragana), you can usually bet that it’s going to use the on’yomi reading. Since you know the on’yomi reading for the above kanji, you should be able to figure out the reading of this word, as well, right? Give it a shot later when this comes up in your flashcards.

← 又 漢字 上 →