Kun'yomi cvs. On'yomi

Asked 7 years ago

Despite having dealt with Kun'yomi and On'yomi for a while, I'm still not quite sure when you're supposed to use either. Could someone give me a demonstration or an example of when to use which pronunciation?

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1 Answer



On'yomi and Kun'yomi can be tricky.  Actually, native speakers of Japanese (including me!) usually don't think about the difference when they write or speak the words with kanji because they learned kanji with real words.  In other words, we never learn only how to write a kanji, but we learn "how to use them."  So, I would recommend you to learn kanji with their vocabularies. 

The main difference between On'yomi and Kun'yomi is that On'yomi tends to be used with other kanji, and Kun'yomi often is used with hiragana (okurigana). You may want to read one of our lessons "A Few Good Kanji," too.

Let's take a look at an example.

Kanji 生


生活(せいかつ living)

一生(いっしょう one's life)


生きる(きる to live)

生まれる(まれる to be born)

Hope this helps!

Answered 7 years ago