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on or kun readings

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on or kun readings

Postby crowfeather » Mon 02.20.2006 11:10 pm

Is there a formula or technique for knowing when to use the "on" or "kun" reading of a kanji?
Or is it like many unusual English words you learn them as you progress.

Example: The singular noun mouse and the plural noun mice.


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RE: on or kun readings

Postby hamsterfreak4evr » Tue 02.21.2006 12:03 am

im not sure, but you will need to know both;)
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RE: on or kun readings

Postby Mukade » Tue 02.21.2006 12:33 am

General rule of thumb:

kun reading is used when kanji stand on their own. examples:
新しい ー 新しい
読む ー よむ
車 ー くるま

on reading is used when kanji combine to form a word (called jukugo, or "compound" words). examples:
新聞 ー しんぶん
読書 ー どくしょ
自転車 ー じてんしゃ

sometimes the kun readings will be used in compound words. These often tend to be names and ideas native to Japan (but not always). examples:
田中 ー たなか
麦粉 ー むぎこ
人達 ー ひとたち

Although it can be hard to tell when the on is used and when the kun is used in compound words, it is relatively rare to see the on and kun readings mixed in a compound word. examples:
帯地 ー おびじ
太字 ー ふとじ
台所 ー だいどころ

But again, these are quite rare.

So, when you are looking at a new word whose kanji you know well, you can guess that it's probably one of two readings - the on or the kun. example:

多数 ー you might guess that this is read with the on reading: たすう or the kun reading: おおかず
or
大雪 ー on reading: だいせつ or the kun reading: おおゆき
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RE: on or kun readings

Postby crowfeather » Tue 02.21.2006 1:14 am

Thank you! This gives me some general guide lines to use.
The people on this site are a blessing to a beginner.
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