I found some similar questions regarding Japanese switching out relatively "easy" kanji for hiragana, but I still can't seem to understand why it's done.

I saw this sentence from a movie:

参加される方は 私についてきてください

It was confusing to me because I had to recall ついて on it's own, but if it was written as 付いて, I would have understood because of the hint that kanji can provide.

Needless to say I am a beginner, but I would like to learn why these changes are done.

1 Answer 1


There are many instances where this happens in Japanese. For whatever reason, sometimes the Kanji is not used with a word.

Here's a few examples:

ありがとう (normal)
有り難う (kanji form)

よろしくおねがいします (normal)
宜しくお願いします (kanji form)

こんにちは (normal)
今日は (kanji form)

Off the top of my head there are four reasons why this happens (possibly more).

  1. Kanji is sometimes omitted from specific words to avoid using too much kanji in text, as sometimes it can be intimidating to see too much kanji in a sentence.
  2. Sometimes kanji isn't used to make things easier for kids/laymen to read.
  3. Sometimes a conjugated form doesn't fully mean the same thing as the plain form.
  4. Sometimes the kanji isn't used because of tradition.

Of the cases listed above, in this circumstance, what you are seeing here is likely the result of case 3 (and possibly 4 as well). This kanji is usually taught to 4th grade elementary school kids, so it isn't hard for most Japanese people.

付く (usually written つく) has the meaning to accompany; to attend; to follow (see definition 6). This particular meaning of つく is usually written without kanji to avoid confusion with 付く (which usually uses the kanji), meaning to be attached; to be connected with; to adhere; to stick; to cling (see definition 1). While the two words do technically have the same kanji, the meaning of the kanji is just different enough from 'to follow' that it is left off in these circumstances.

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