When looking up the kanji occurring as the first character in the word すき (好き), I can see the following:

suki kanji dictionary entry

I know quite a bit of Chinese, and am trying to make the best out of this kanji section of my dictionary.

Can someone please explain the difference between the kana line above (first line) and the kana line below (second line) in this entry, as well as what all those commas and dots mean, and whether the order of characters between those dots and commas bears any significance or is random?

Thank you for helping me read kana entries from my kanji dictionary.



The first thing you need to be able to do is distinguish between katakana and hiragana.

In most dictionaries, it is rather standard to use katakana to show the on'yomi (or, Chinese derived pronunciation) of the character. Hiragana is used to show the kun'yomi (native Japanese pronunciation). Characters can have multiple on'yomi and multiple kun'yomi; it all depends on the history of the character and its usage. While one can formulate some general rules of usage, it's mostly through context and familiarity that you'll understand which pronunciation is used or expected---and, then there are odd-ball cases where all rules fly out the window.

The コウ that you see there is the on'yomi for 好, which is the pronunciation used in many, but not all, compounds (it depends on the character). So, in 好機, you'll use the on'yomi to get こうき. Or in 好奇心 to read this as こうきしん. Not all characters have an on'yomi, but most do.

In the hiragana reading, the period marks where the okurigana should begin (I say should because it can depend on who and when something was published different rules may apply). Okurigana are ideally aide the reader in determining not only the inflection (such as for verbs) but distinguishing when which kun'yomi is intended. For example:

この.む --> 好む

Or, if you see,


The み is the inflected okurigana and tells you that this is read


There are some words where you have to guess completely by context, e.g. 行く has amongs other readings the kun'yomi い.く and おこな.う which would be ok but the past tenses are いった and おこなった respectively, both written usually as 行った.

So while 大阪で行{おこな}った大会 obviously means tournament that took place in Osaka and not tournament, that walked in Osaka 大阪に行{い}った人 is a person that went to Osaka。

  • Then, I the example above, how do i tell the difference between the よい and いい pronunciations if the okurigana is just the final い? Thanks. – Jack Maddington Oct 27 '16 at 14:10
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    they're actually just variants of the same word. but still there are other kanji where you need to recognize which to use solely by context. – A.Ellett Oct 27 '16 at 14:45
  • Can you please augment your answer with this info and an example of where you need to recognize which to usr solely by context? Thanks. – Jack Maddington Oct 27 '16 at 16:03
  • Not all characters have an on'yomi, but most do They are very few characters without an on'yomi, many more don't have a kun'yomi (many seldom used characters aren't associated with any native japanese word, and are used only with a on'yomi) I have a database of the 2200 most used characters so I could check quickly, 9 of those don't have a on'yomi, 込, 枠, 畑, 笹, 峠, 凪, 柾,麿, 匁, and 390 don't have a kun'yomi. I expect that checking on a complete set, the 1st nbr would change very little, and the 2nd would be inflated a lot. – jmd May 20 at 14:46

I think the first line is the basic reading of the kanji by itself.


The next line offer you the most common usages of the kanji.
The kana before the dot is the reading of the kanji and the kana after the dot is the kana that must go with the kanji to fit that reading. The comma simply separate the different examples.

好む -> この .む -> kono . mu

  • Thank you for your answer, but how do I then tell when to use konomu, suku, yoi, or ii. How do I then go about telling the differences between these? Thanks. – Jack Maddington Oct 27 '16 at 14:04
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    @JackMaddington They are just common words that can be used with that kanji to show examples of how that kanji can be used. konomu and suku are verbs, ii and yoi are adjectives. They aren't really related. If your goal is to learn the possible readings of the kanji, then just learn all variants of the readings(kana before the dots) and ignore what is after the dots(does are just there as example). If you really want to know how to go about telling the difference between all of them, then you are just gonna have to learn all those words. Which I believe to be the way to learn kanji readings. – stack reader Oct 28 '16 at 1:17
  • Interesting. So the list of kana before the dots is exhaustive, while the words formed by attaching kana after the dots, declensions aside, are still not exhaustive. I didn't know that. – Jack Maddington Oct 28 '16 at 11:47

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