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What is Onyomi 音読み and Kunyomi 訓読み When you learn Kanji?

Japanese kanji characters have two different ways of being read: onyomi and kunyomi. Onyomi are the readings of kanji that were borrowed from Chinese, while kunyomi are the native Japanese readings of kanji. Understanding the difference between onyomi and kunyomi is an important part of learning to read and understand Japanese.


Onyomi:


Onyomi (音読み) is the Japanese term used to describe the readings of a kanji character that was originally imported from China. These readings are based on the Chinese pronunciation of the character, which is why they are often quite different from the kunyomi readings. Onyomi readings are usually made up of two or more syllables, and they are typically written in katakana.


For example, the kanji character 音 (sound) has an onyomi reading of "on," which comes from the Chinese pronunciation of the character. Another example is the kanji character 人 (person), which has an onyomi reading of "jin."


Kunyomi:


Kunyomi (訓読み) is the Japanese term used to describe the native Japanese readings of a kanji character. These readings are based on the way the character was used in Japanese before the introduction of Chinese characters. Kunyomi readings are usually made up of a single syllable or a small group of syllables, and they are typically written in hiragana.


For example, the kanji character 音 (sound) has a kunyomi reading of "oto," which is the native Japanese word for "sound." Another example is the kanji character 人 (person), which has a kunyomi reading of "hito."


It's worth noting that some kanji characters can have multiple onyomi and kunyomi readings, depending on the context in which they are used. In general, onyomi readings are more common in compound words, while kunyomi readings are more common in stand-alone words.


Learning onyomi and kunyomi readings can be a challenging part of studying Japanese, but it's an important step towards being able to read and understand kanji characters in context. With practice, you can become proficient in using both onyomi and kunyomi readings to enhance your understanding of Japanese.


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