I am learning kanji with Heisig's method, and I have seen that and means the same (compensation, indemnify), so I have been searching for examples in 'Yomiwa' and 'jisho.org' trying to clear my doubts. However, I couldn't find any answer of how difference those kanjis and how or when to use them. Thanks!!

I didn't have time to talk before, so okey. The trick is that I have usually watched them together, but in certain cases the aren't.For example:

賠償金, which means: indemnities; or 賠償 that means compensation (both words seems to means the same, okey) Then, as 'agijonazo' said, is used in abbreviations so okey, i didn't spot that, thanks.

The other case is when is alone as 償還 (amortization) or here: 償却 (repayment, but also can means amortization)

How do I know when to use them both together or just one alone? Also, the translations seems to be similar (when one or both kanjis are in a sentence), are there sinonymous or just have a little different in japanese context? e.g: 償却, 償還, 償い, 賠償, 賠償金 have equals meaning.

Sorry if I am not clear enough and thank so much all you

PD: I have read naruto's post but don't understand how that is apply here

  • Related: japanese.stackexchange.com/q/83495/5010
    – naruto
    Jul 15, 2021 at 13:10
  • You would have to learn how to use each word. Your question would make much more sense if it asked about differences between particular words that use those characters, rather than differences between individual characters.
    – aguijonazo
    Jul 15, 2021 at 23:47
  • Probably a practical answer is that 賠 is rarely used alone. 賠 and 償 both has Kun-reading つぐなう, but 賠 is unlikely to be used. You might be able to think 賠 means compensate by money because the left side (Hen) of 賠 (=貝) usually means something about money. Compare dictionary.goo.ne.jp/word/kanji/%E8%B3%A0 and dictionary.goo.ne.jp/word/kanji/%E5%84%9F.
    – sundowner
    Jul 17, 2021 at 2:40

2 Answers 2


As a standalone word, 償 is used to write a Japanese word つぐなう (償う) that means "pay for (a crime or damage)". 賠 could also be read つぐなう, but virtually unused outside reading Classical Chinese books (kanbun kundoku).

As a part of Sino-Japanese compounds, 賠【ばい】 and 償【しょう】 have different connotations. 賠 means "pay money for damage or harm", while 償 is "give something (beneficial) in return to something done (good or bad)". It would be useful to know when you end up with coining a new word, which would be extremely rare though.


I'll attempt to answer the question, but your confusion over the meaning is due to a general misconception you seem to have about how Kanji work.

You may have noticed that 償 has a Kun and an On reading, whereas 賠 only has an On reading. 償 can be part of a word, for example 償還【しょうかん】 where you would use the On reading. It can also be used by itself as the verb 償【つぐな】う = to make up. In contrast, 賠 is never used by itself and must always be used with another Kanji. Kanji that don't appear by themselves are hard to define in a dictionary and they typically take on the meaning of the words they're most commonly associated with. Since 賠 is most commonly written in the word 賠償【ばいしょう】= compensation, 賠 is defined as also meaning compensation.

Your question about when to use which of the two is missing the point: Knowing the meaning of Kanji doesn't tell you anything about how to use them and which words you can write with them. Also, knowing all the pronounciations of a Kanji doesn't tell you how to pronounce it in a given word. You'll simply have to learn the meaning of japanese words, memorize how they are written and also memorize how they are read.


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