When To Use On’yomi & Kun’yomi

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

Knowing when to use each pronunciation is pretty difficult. There are some general rules that might help, which I’ve listed below, but the best way to understand all this would be to just get into kanji and make things happen (don’t worry, that’ll happen so soon!).

  1. When a kanji is sitting on its own, often times you’ll use the くん reading (though there are exceptions to this).
  2. When a kanji is combined with another kanji, and no hiragana is attached, you’ll probably be using the おん reading. This is jukugo.
  3. A lot of the time, you’ll have to have prior knowledge of a particular word before you can know the pronunciation of it. Often times you can guess the pronunciation of a word / kanji based on your studies / a few indicators, but in the end preparedness and experience is key. Even Japanese speakers can’t always figure out the pronunciation of a word they haven’t learned in context before. It’s not like English where you can just sound it out, after all!

With that, let’s get started! The best way to learn kanji isn’t reading all this, it’s actually studying it. But, now you’re all prepared, so let’s get to it!

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