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My dictionary says 今日(きょう) is a special reading. My textbook presents it in the third lesson, so I'm guessing it's a normal pronunciation. So... what's the difference between 今日(こんにち) and 今日(きょう)?

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今日 was originally read as けふ, then became けう and then きょう due to regular sound change. I think け is the same as the 今{け} in [今朝]{けさ}. ふ and さ might be cognate with [日]{ひ} and 朝{あさ}. –  Yang Muye Jul 10 at 13:23
    
@YangMuye: Comments are not for Answers. –  istrasci Jul 10 at 15:13
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@istrasci Although it's not entirely clear, I think in this case the question is about the difference between the words こんにち and きょう, so a comment about etymology might not actually answer the question. –  snailboat Jul 10 at 15:35
    
@YangMuye, Unger in his paper New Etymologies for Some Japanese Time-Words points out from the 甲・乙 spellings that, while 火 hi did have an apophonic form of fu, 日 hi did not. Unger then advances the theory that the fu here is the same as 節{ふ}, from the idea that the joint or connection senses sometimes also applied to time. Worth a read. –  Eiríkr Útlendi Jul 10 at 18:06

2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Both means today, but the meaning depends on the pronunciation.

きょう refers to the day after yesterday, the day before tomorrow.

今日【きょう】は雨【あめ】が降【ふ】っています。 It's raining today.

こんにち means present age, nowadays, or these days.

今日【こんにち】の若者【わかもの】は新聞【しんぶん】を読【よ】まない。 Young people of today do not read newspapers.

This difference is rather strict; basically you can't expect they're interchangeable. I recommend that you memorize how to use きょう first, because こんにち is less common.

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To see that 今日{きょう} is a special reading, you need to look in a kanji dictionary.

「きょ」 is not listed as a possible reading of 「今」.
「う」 is not listed as a possible reading of 「日」.

「今日」 is a 熟字訓{じゅくじくん} which is best explained in the wikipedia entry for "kanji".

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In the kodansha kanji learners dictionary its listed as special reading (今日 = きょう) –  Daniel Jul 10 at 12:10
    
Then, I don't understand the norm you are using to qualify a pronunciation as "normal". I assumed your norm was the on/kun readings assigned to kanji in a standard kanji dictionary. –  user312440 Jul 10 at 12:21
    
The dic gives the normal pronuntiations for 今 which are こん,きん and いま. And after that it gives the special reading for the combination 今日. But what Im really interested in is if there is any difference in use between こんにち and きょう. Or if they are interchagable in the same context. –  Daniel Jul 10 at 12:27
    
When you speak, you say きょう for "today". When you speak, you greet someone with a こんにち(は). When you write, put きょう in kanji and leave こんにち(は) in kana. Unless you are reading out loud, I don't think it matters how you read it. You should understand the meaning from context. –  user312440 Jul 10 at 13:52
    
Thx a lot for that explanation. Its what I was looking for :) –  Daniel Jul 10 at 14:03

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