As I use Rosetta Stone to learn Japanese, I only use the Kanji mode (except when I forget the reading for a kanji and then flip it briefly to furigana mode). However, I've found that for some reason there are many words that Rosetta Stone seems to arbitrarily choose to use hiragana instead of kanji.


ぼく instead of 僕
こわれる instead of 壊れる
かさ instead of 傘
はしご instead of 梯子

and many more.

Is this due to the kanji being to complex accoring to Rosetta Stone or is this a situation where hiragana is typically used instead of kanji? From what I've been able to find in online dictionaries, these aren't flagged as "typically written as hiragana". Since we're reading these words and not writing these words, I would have expected them to favor the kanji forms.

What further seems to confuse me is when reading manga, I've seen 僕, ぼく, and ボク used.

  • 2
    I have no way of answering this since I don't know anything about Rosetta Stone. It is true, though, that none of these are on the list of 1006 kanji learned in grades one through six (even 僕): ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – user1478
    May 11, 2015 at 2:10
  • @snailboat That's a good hypothesis. I was thinking the cut-off would be the jouyou kanji list, but the grade 1-6 list may be the limiter. I'll have to look up more of the kanji I've learned to see if any are outside the grade 1-6.
    – user10056
    May 11, 2015 at 2:23

1 Answer 1


僕 and ぼく
僕 is more common, but ぼく is also used in casual situation.

こわれる and 壊れる
壊れる is much more common. こわれる is acceptable to use.

かさ and 傘
Both are common to use.

はしご and 梯子
はしご is much more common. 梯子 could be used, but it is not recommended.

In general you can refer 常用漢字一覧 to find out individual kanji is common or not. If [常用漢字]{じょうようかんじ} is a list of basic kanji that are recommended to use in everyday life. In other word, if a kanji is not listed in the [常用漢字一覧]{じょうようかんじいちらん}, the kanji is usually too complicated to use in everyday life. In that case, you should use Hiragana instead.

  • I won't go so far as to say 梯子 is not recommended. (I agree that はしご is more common). Note that katakana ハシゴ is also not uncommon.
    – Yosh
    May 11, 2015 at 4:22
  • 1
    @Yosh 梯 in 梯子 is not listed in 常用漢字一覧. The list is not force people to limit using kanji only in the list, but in practice, most of news media only use kanji in the list. You can make sure that almost all the Japanese people learn kanji listed in the 常用漢字一覧 at school in their child age, but ones not listed in the list. You still could use kanji not listed in 常用漢字一覧, but some people probably can't understand, even they are native Japanese. And I want to add I frequently see はしご and sometimes see ハシゴ, but I almost never see 梯子 in my life in Japan more than 30 years.
    – Takashi
    May 11, 2015 at 7:48
  • Thanks for the response, now I think it might be my personal preference --- I usually prefer to use/see kanji in these cases. I also disagree with the idea (again, this is merely my preference) of using hiragana just because the kanji isn't on the list, typically seen in media as you pointed out. I also believe most native speakers can read 梯子 without a problem, but anyway hiragana is safer for everybody :). Maybe not in real life, but we sometimes come across 梯子 in literature, right?
    – Yosh
    May 11, 2015 at 12:03
  • 2
    @Yosh You are right. 梯子 sometimes seen in literature. I think you should write はしご, if you are in everyday life (like write message, article or paper). But it's up to you to write 梯子 or はしご if you are in literature world.
    – Takashi
    May 11, 2015 at 12:38

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