I was introduced to jisho.org a few days ago and I find it a really good tool to use while using the Heisig method to learn the readings as I learn the writing and understanding of kanji. I noticed 2 different symbols used when they present the kunyomi. So far I haven't seen them used in onyomi so I think they are not used in them. The "."(dot) and the "-"(dash). From what I gather I believe I got what they basically mean but please correct me if I'm wrong:

  • "." - the dot is used to show where the kanji stops and after it the following is written in kana. I think the trailing kana had a name but I really can't remember it now. Is this always the case? When I see a dot should I always assume it's only kana after it? Or can there be kanji as well in some compounds?

  • "-" - the dash is used to show that the word is allowed to form compounds only on the side where the dash is shown.

Take 一 for an example. Its 2 kun readings are: ひと-, ひと.つ so if I got this correctly:

一つ - this is how you write it according to the second reading.

Other thing I noticed is that there are times you can use a kanji instead of a trailing kana. I noticed this when I saw the other example compound on jisho 一月 Is this a common thing and does it have a term defining it so I can research further on my own?

一人 - this is really the only compound I could think of but the way I see it if the dash does what I think it does that means there will never be a compound word that has ひと somewhere elsewhere in the word apart from the beginning.

  • 2
    The trailing kana after the dot are called okurigana (送り仮名).
    – Blavius
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 14:38

1 Answer 1


The upshot is that you should try to look at the explanatory notes of the dictionary you use and try not to get too attached to a particular notation. Knowing that kanji have a main reading, possibly with okurigana is usually all you need to know to make sense of a dictionary entry.

Here are some examples, which are frequently encountered:


    The kanji search function on jisho.org uses KANJIDIC as its base. Indeed it looks as though the Western period . is used to separate the reading of the kanji from its okurigana and the Western hyphen - is used to indicate possible readings in compounds.

  • Official list of jōyō kanji

    The official jōyō kanji list (PDF) published by the Agency of Cultural Affairs gives the readings as follows


    (no ., no -).

  • Wikipedia

    Wikipedia uses a Western hyphen where KANJIDIC uses a Western period.

  • Monolingual dictionaries

    Monolingual dictionaries usually list the word in kana and give kanji readings in brackets 【】, e.g. Daijirin has

    ひと つ [2] 【一つ】

    where a space was used between the kanji reading and the okurigana.

  • Other dictionaries

    The Shin Kanwa Daijiten uses the nakaguro to separate the different readings and uses bold readings and regular okurigana:



As for compounds like 一月, these are either regular words (listed in a dictionary) or in this case [number]+[counter word], although you may also encounter other words like [word]+[suffix], of which only [word] and [suffix] are listed in the dictionary (and not the combination [word]+[suffix]).

As you suspected there are no okurigana for on'yomi. There are also no good rules for when which on'yomi gets read how, depending on position in a compound, so the notation . and - in KANJIDIC will only be used for kun'yomi.

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