To help you remember 音 from Lesson 2, 音よみ will be how ON reading(s) will be spelled. Rare readings will be marked with ▽. Exceptions will be noted with ●.
This person means person because it comes from a standing person. It takes a lot of interesting shapes in other characters. For instance, it's the feet looking part in 児 (infant). It's the roof part to 会 (to meet). And, it's the left side to characters like 個 (piece).
音よみ: ジン, ニン
くんよみ: ひと, -り
When to use ジン and ニン is very difficult for many students. The first is used in nationality, but it's also used constructively in Sino-Japanese words to mean "person". This is problematic because ニン has this meaning too; however, this latter reading is most often used to show occupation and character of people. It is also used as a counter for people after 3 people. The latter reading is the oldest reading, so when you see words like 人間 (ニンゲン）, you know that from the reading alone that it's an older word. How old a word is a last resort, but generally speaking, what has been mentioned thus far can help tell you which reading to use most of the time.
As for the native readings, -り is a native counter for people, and it is used for 1 person and 2 people.
|人生||じんせい||(Human) life||人情||にんじょう||Empathy; human nature|
|人出||ひとで||Turn-out||人数||にんずう||Number of people|
|案内人||あんないにん||A guide person||住人||じゅうにん||Resident|
|人口||じんこう||Population||一人||ひとり||1 person; alone|
|二人||ふたり||2 people||三人||さんにん||3 people|
This character is from a pictograph of a lump of dirt. It eventually came to look like a plant growing from the earth, but it is sadly not the origin of the character.
The first 音よみ is the most common, but it actually came about from a mistaken change of pronunciation from the second one, which is really rare. However, the words with ト tend to be very common.
|領土||りょうど||Territory||土煙||つちけむり||Cloud of dust|
|土間||どま||Earth floor||土橋||どばし・つちはし||Earthen floor|
|土佐||とさ||Tosa||土砂||どしゃ||Earth and sand|
|土産||みやげ ●||Souvenir||土筆||つくし ●||Horsetail (plant)|
|土竜||もぐら ●||Mole (animal)||土手||どて||Bank (river)|
円 used to be 圓. The encasement represents roundness, and the inside part is from a pictograph of a round kettle, and it reinforces the sound for the word "round" in Chinese. This character would then be adapted to mean yen in Japan, and due to yen's association with bank-teller windows, the character was simplified to look like one.
くんよみ: まる（い）, まろ（やか）, つぶ（ら）、まど（か）
まろやか, an adjective, may refer to something being round, but it may also describe mild/mellow flavor. つぶら is another adjective and also means round, but it also infers that the object is also cute. まどか is also an adjective and means round or tranquil. Except まるい, these adjectives are rather uncommon in the spoken language, but they are more refined.
|円貨||えんか||The yen currency||円顔||まるがお||Round face|
This is the character for character. The top roof has a child underneath it, and this can be interpreted as an emblem of education and the written word. In Chinese it can sometimes mean to nourish, but the figurative associated with children proliferation and the complication that comes about this is just as bad as 漢字.
くんよみ: あざ, あざな
あざ actually refers to a section of a village. あざな is an even rarer and worthless reading that refers either to a Chinese courtesy name or a nickname, but nickname is usually あだな.
The heavens is definitely something that man has looked upon with the head up high, which is really how this character came about. In Japanese "the heavens" may not necessarily have religious connotations, but if it does, it should be obvious. It can also just mean "sky", but this is typically the case in compounds.
The くんよみ is not all that common because native words in relation to the heavens are usually not all that common.
|曇天||どんてん||Cloudy day||天つ風||あまつかぜ||Heavenly wind|
This is from an abbreviation of a pictograph of a long-shafted two-wheeled chariot, and although cars typically have four wheels, it has been changed in meaning in modern times to mean car. Before the age of the car, it would refer to carriages. Before the age of carriages, it referred to oxcarts.
This means "center/middle". It's a pretty straightforward pictograph.
|中国||チュウゴク||China; Chugoku (Region of Japan)||Not チュウコク!|
|真ん中||まんなか||The very middle|
|中立||チュウリツ||Neutrality||Think Switzerland (スイス)|
|中型||チュウがた||Medium size||Not なかがた!|
|中心||チュウシン||Center||The heart of...|
Gotta love birds. After all, they are the surviving dinosaurs. This character comes from a pictograph of a bird. Exceptional readings come from あてじ. So, this character is pretty straightforward on how to read.
|鳥居||とりい||Shinto shrine gate||A nostalgic symbol of Japanese traditional beliefs|
|白鳥||ハクチョウ||Swan||Swans are white birds.|
This is fish.
The latter くんよみ comes from the original word for fish and the second acquired the meaning much later on. Both are used frequently, but a specific reading may be needed in compound words.
|雑魚||ざこ||Small fry||Exceptional reading|
This is a pictograph of a foot and a knee cap, and so logically this is used to mean leg/foot.
|足元||あしもと||The foot of|
|足りる||たりる||To be sufficient|
子 is from a pictograph of an infant in swaddling clothes.
The ス reading occasionally pops up.
|利子||リシ||Interest||As in finance.|
|玉子||たまご||Egg||Usually spelled as 卵.|
|障子||しょうじ||Paper sliding-door||Exceptional reading.|
|餃子||ギョウザ・ギョーザ||Gyoza dumplings||Usually in カタカナ.|
|螺子・捩子・捻子||Screw||As in a screw||Usually in ひらがな. Also s|
This is a pictograph of a titled eye, and it means "eye". Thankfully that was straightforward.
モク is used in most Sino-Japanese words with this character. In rarer instances where the character is used to refer to attitude, ボク might be used. ま- is usually used as a prefix in native words, but it can be used in isolation in the phrase 目のあたり (right before one's eyes).
|目下||モッカ||At present||Somewhat formal|
|目下||めした||Junior||Junior as in inferior. Don't confuse with モッカ|
|目蓋||まぶた||Eyelid||蓋 = lid|
|効き目||ききめ||Efficacy||-目 can indicate ordinal numbers, border, degree, or role.|
This is a pictograph of a mouth wide-open, and lo and behold it means mouth. It is perhaps one of the most straightforward characters aside from 一, 二, and 三. It looked a little bit more like ㅂ in Korean at the onset. As words come out of people's mouth, it can also symbolize speech.
音よみ: コウ, ク
The first 音よみ is the most prevalent, and the latter is an older and less frequently used reading.
|一口||ひとくち||Sip; nibble; a word||出口||でぐち||Exit|
|口語||こうご||Spoken language||口座||こうざ||Bank account|
|口説||くぜつ||Lovers' fights||口説く||くどく||To persuade; seduce|
|口調||くちょう||Tone of voice||入口||いりぐち||Entrance|
This is from a pictograph of a hand with all fingers out but one bent. When seen in other characters it becomes 才 like in 持 (to hold). As you can guess, this is the character for hand.
|手段||しゅだん||Means; measures||手繰る||たぐる||To pull/draw in|
|手の平||てのひら||Palm||手の甲||てのこう||Back of one's hand|
|下手||へた ●||Bad at||上手||じょうず ●|| Good at|
This looks like an ear, and that's exactly what it means. See, some characters can be completely straightforward.
|耳鼻||じび||Ear and nose||耳障り||みみざわり||Hurting one's ears|