<< Previous

Lesson 7: Reading the Kanji


Kun-Yomi
Kun-Yomi are native Japanese words that got mapped onto Chinese Kanji with a similar meaning. If you see a single Kanji by itself or a Kanji with Hiragana afterwards then it is most likely a Kun-Yomi word. Here are some examples:

木 (き)- Tree
高い (たかい)- Tall
食べ過ぎる (たべすぎる) - To overeat

The first example is a single word with just one Kanji. The next two combine Kanji with Hiragana.

On-Yomi
On-Yomi are based on the Chinese pronunciation. Two or more Kanji in a row usually indicate that the On-Yomi is being used.

学生 (がくせい) - Student
高校 (こうこう) - High School
高校生 (こうこうせい) High School Student

Notice how the word for High School Student is just the word for High School with the last character for Student stuck on.
On Yomi Reading Groups
When new Kanji were created from existing radicals the On-Yomi was often the same as that of Kanji sharing one of the radicals. If you learn these Kanji together it will make it a lot easier to remember the On-Yomi. They are covered in Chapter 2.