Learn Japanese

Learn Kanji

When an individual starts learning Japanese verbs, the first form of verb introduced will be the masu verbs. Japanese language does not have three different tenses. The Present tense and the future tense of a verb is the same.

Kanji is the most important script of the Japanese language. Years ago, Japanese language did not have any written script for itself. It was only after the adoption of the Chinese characters, that Japan formed it own written script. The other two scripts namely hiragana and katakana have been formed from kanji. However, one should always remember that, there is a huge difference between the meanings and pronunciations of the Chinese characters that are used to write the Chinese language and kanji, which is used to write the Japanese language.

The kanji symbols, which were designed in Japan, are known as kokuji. Whereas, the Chinese characters, which have not been modified but have been given a different Japanese meaning, different from the Chinese meaning are called kokkun. Kanjis are used to write verb stems, nouns and adjective stems. Two or more kanjis are joined to make a meaningful word. The combination of two or more kanjis to make meaningful words is known as "Jyukugo" in Japanese.

Kanji has two different readings or pronunciations namely "onyoumi" and "kunyoumi". Onyoumi is the native Chinese pronunciation. On the other hand, kunyoumi is the Japanese pronunciation given to the kanji. A single kanji can have both readings kunyoumi and onyoumi or only of them. A jyukugo can be a combination of either of the following 4 types:

  • Onyoumi + Kunyoumi
  • Onyoumi + Onyoumi
  • Kunyoumi + Onyoumi
  • Kunyoumi + Kunyoumi

Which reading of the kanji should be considered depends on some rules. However, it is difficult to remember these rules. Few factors, which are considered while deciding the pronunciation, are location in the sentence, context of the sentence, proposed meaning and use in the compound.

A Japanese sentence is a combination of all the three scripts. A sentence can be written in hiragana only but it cannot be written either katakana or in kanji only. The total number of kanjis is lot but for the JLPT exams, the limit has been specified. Each level has a particular number of kanjis to learn along with their jyukugo. For the N5 level the approximate number is around 200 kanjis. For N4 level it is around 300-400 kanjis. For N3 it is around 600 kanjis. For N2 level, the number is approximately 1200-1500 kanjis and for level N1, it is around 2000 kanjis.

As kanjis are a pictorial script, there is a particular stroke order you need to follow while writing it. The way in which you study kanji is also very important. Kanjis are not be learnt only by reading them. It is essential to write the kanji and then learn it. You can learn kanjis faster through this very helpful way. It is essential to learn both the readings of the kanji. Another way of learning kanjis is to relate some meaning or logic to it, which will help you remember the reading and actual meaning as soon as you see the kanji. This logic or meaning differs from person to person. You can follow any of the above ways of studying this script or any other way that you are comfortable with. This lesson provides you with the kanjis, their readings and meanings, which are essential from the point of view of JLPT N5 exam.

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