I know that kanjis can have many readings. But I thought compounds (combinations) had only one meaning. For what I've read in the board, a compound can have different readings for different meanings. But can a compound with different readings have the same meaning?

For example the word 今日 . Pages and browser extensions give me 3 different pronunciations for it きょう, こんにち , こんじつ . Now what does it mean? Does it mean that when the compound it's alone it has only one pronunciation and that when it's combined with other kanjis get different pronunciations (for example 今日中に = きょうじゅうに pronounced "kyou" , 今日的 = こんにちてき pronounced "kon", or does it mean that when the compound 今日 = today is alone can also be pronounced in 3 different ways? ( きょう, こんにち , こんじつ )

Also, (and I dont know if I should open another question for this) why when I look for the readings of 今 and 日 they only have the コン、キン、いま and ニチ、ジツ、ひ、か readings respectively, but when combined they get a reading きょうthat you can't create by adding the individual kanji readings ?

  • 1
    can the same compound have different readings when having the same meaning? Yes. One example I immediately think of is [牧場]{ぼく・じょう} and [牧場]{まき・ば}.
    – istrasci
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 20:47
  • and you can use any of those readings you want or it depends on certain context or something?
    – Pablo
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 21:03
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    ^ I think it usually depends on the context... since they often have different nuances... For example, you'd say [牧場]{ぼくじょう}を経営している rather than [牧場]{まきば}を経営している, right? (Related question? : japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/19624/… )
    – chocolate
    Commented Feb 10, 2017 at 10:52

1 Answer 1


Can the same compound have different readings when having the same meaning?


There are two ways of reading Kanji. One is "訓読み" the Japanese reading of a Chinese character(Kanji) and the other is "音読み" the Chinese reading of a Chinese character(Kanji).

Japanese feel "訓読み" as soft expressions and "音読み" as a little bit hard expressions.

Not just feelings but the meanings are different. For example,

OK: 今日{きょう}は雨だ。
NG: 今日{こんにち}は雨だ。

NG: 今日{きょう}、海外生産が当たり前になっている。Nowadays overseas production is prevailing.
OK: 今日{こんにち}、海外生産が当たり前になっている。Nowadays overseas production is prevailing.

We can see the use of 今日{こんにち} in the editorial article of a news paper.

今日{きょう} is 訓読み and we often use it.

OK: 今日{きょう}は天気がいいから、牧場{ぼくじょう}に行こう!
NG: 今日{きょう}は天気がいいから、牧場{まきば}に行こう!

I'm not sure which is 訓読み or 音読み with 牧場{ぼくじょう} and 牧場{まきば}, but we use 牧場{ぼくじょう} daily. I can see the use of 牧場{まきば} in a lyrics.

It's somewhat confusing but "牧場{ぼくじょう}" and "牧場{まきば}" have the same meaning.

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