Japanese Lesson – Learning Kanji 002

みんなさん、こんにちは!

Hello Everyone,

I hope our first lesson opened your appetite. Now let’s getting started for our second kanji lesson! This time you will learn 5 new kanji: 二, 三, 何, 日 and 本

If you missed the first lesson, and your first two kanji, here it is: Learning Kanji 001.

Note: You will see in this lesson that learning 5 kanji can represent quite a huge amount of work. Take your time and do it at your own pace (and you will see along time that one kanji a day is aleady a good pace), and most of all be consistent, be it only to review what you learnt the previous time. Practice makes perfect.

  • Strokes: 2
  • Reading(s):
    • onyomi:
    • kunyomi:
      • ふた- (not frequent)
      • ふた.つ
    • jukujikun:
      • 二人(ふたり)/ two persons /
      • 二日(ふつか)/ the second day of the month /
      • 二十日(はつか)/ the 20th day of the month /
      • 二十歳(はたち)/ 20 years old /
  • Meaning(s):
    • two, two radical (n°2)

Examples:

  • 二 (ニ) as a number: / two /
    • じ はん です。(に)
    • / two / hours / half / to be /
    • / (It is) two and a half. /
    • かい に すんで います。(に)
    • / two / floor / {place of action} / to be living /
    • / (I am) leaving at the second floor /
  • 二 (ふた-) as a number: two
    • え まぶた (ふた)
    • / double edged / eyelid /
    • / double edged eyelid /
    • Note: This is the only existing word with this pronunciation.
  • 二つ (ふたつ) as a count: two
    • その 二つとも すき ではない。(ふた)
    • / these / both / liking / not to be /
    • / (I) don’t like either of them. /

  • Strokes: 3
  • Reading(s):
    • onyomi:
      • サン
    • kunyomi:
      • み- (not frequent)
      • みつ- (generally becomes a っ)
      • みっ.つ
    • jukujikun:
      • 三味線(しゃみせん)/ shamisen, a three string Japanese guitar like instrument /
  • Meaning(s):
    • three, three radical (n°3)

Examples:

  • 三 (さん) as a number: / three /
    • 一、二、… (いち・に・さん)
    • / one / two / three /
    • / one, two, three… /
    • さい に おなじ しつもん を くりかえしています。(さん)
    • / again and again  (again a third time) / {manner} / same / question / {object} / to repeat /
    • / (He) keeps repeating the same question. /
  • 三 (み-) as a number: three
    • かづき (み)
    • / three / days / moon /
    • / new moon /
    • おねえさん は つご が います。 (み)
    • / older sister / {topic} / triplets / {focus} / to have /
    • / My older sister has triplets. /
  • 三 (みつ) as a number: three
    • 一がつ か です。(いち・ みっ)
    • / January (one month) / third day (three days) / to be /
    • / (It is) the 3rd of January. /
  • 三つ (みっつ) as three (when no specific counter is used):
    • これ は つ を かいました。(みっ)
    • / these / {topic} / three / {object} / bought /
    • / (I) bought three of these. /
  • Other:
    • 三味線 は すき です か。(しゃみせん)
    • / shamisen / {topic} / liking / to be / {question} /
    • / Do (you) like shamisen. /

  • Strokes: 7
  • Reading(s):
    • onyomi:
      • カ (rare)
    • kunyomi:
      • なに
      • なん
  • Meaning(s):
    • what

Note:

  • There also exist some other readings to this kanji, which are not frequently encountered as most of the time the kana foirm of the words is used:
    • ど: 何れ / which / , 何の / what /, 何方 (どちら) / which /…
    • いず: 何れ / which /
    • 如何: どう / how, in what way /

Examples:

  • 何 (か) as a “spiritual questioning”: / what /
    • がく は かんたん です。(か)
    • / geometry / {topic} / easy / to be /
    • / Geometry is easy. /
    • Note: Geometry is viewed as the study of numerous questions.
  • 何 (なに) as a general question: / what /
    • きのう、 を した? (なに)
    • / yesterday / what / {object} / did (casual) /
    • / What did (you) do yesterday /
  • 何 (なん) as a question with a specific counter: / what /
    • じ です か。 (なん)
    • / what hour / to be / {question} /
    • / What time is it? /
  • 何人
    • 何人 can be read in many different ways, so you have to be really carefull to the context:
      • なんにん: / how many people /
      • なんびとさま: / how many people / (honorific)
      • なにじん: / what nationality /
      • なにびと: / everyone, anyone /
      • なんぴと: / everyone, anyone / (inflexion from なんびと)

Still alive? Let’s continue then!

  • Strokes: 4
  • Reading(s):
    • onyomi:
      • ニチ (the ち can become a halfwidth つ in compound words)
      • ジツ
    • kunyomi:
    • jukujikun:
      • 昨日(きのう)/ yesterday /
      • 今日(きょう)/ today /
      • 明日(あす)/ tomorrow /
      • 一日(ついたち)/ first day (of the month) /
      • 二日(ふつか)/ second day of the month /
      • 二十日(はつか)/ twentieth day of the month /
      • 日和(ひより)/ weather, climatic condition /
  • Meaning(s):
    • Sun
    • day, counter for days (the day being linked to the cycle of the Sun)
    • Japan (country of the rising Sun)

Examples:

  • 日 (にち) as a day in time (week, month year)
    • 今日 は なん です か。(きょう ・にち)
    • / today / {topic} / what / day / to be / {question} /
    • / What day is it today? /
    • まい、かんじ を べんきょう しています。 (にち)
    • / every, each / day / kanji / {object} / study / to be doing /
    • /(I) study kanji everydays. /
  • 日 (に[っ]) as Japan:
    • ぽんこうくら (にっ)
    • / Japan / aviation, flying /
    • / Japane AirLines (JAL) /
    • ほんご が すき です。 (に)
    • / Japanese language / {focus} / liking / to be /
    • / I love japanese language. /
  • 日 (か) as a counter for days in the month:
    • たんじょう日 は 三がつ なの です。(び・さん・か)
    • / birthday / {topic} / March (3rd month) / 9th (9th day) / to be /
    • / (My) birthday is the 9th of March. /
  • 日 (にち) as a  counter for days (in the month or general):
    • クリスマス は じゅう二がつ 二じゅう ご です。(に・に・にち)
    • / Christmas / {topic} / December (12th month) / 25th (25th day) / to be /
    • / Christmas is on December the 25th. /
    • なつ やすみ は 今日 から ひゃく です。(きょう・にち)

Cultural interlude :P: Japanese initially called their country やまと (probably “the gate of the mountains”), and sometimes ひのもと (origin of the Sun). Japanese borrowed the Chinese character , which was used to represent Japan in China, to write the name やまと, but when they discovered that this word also meant dwarf, they changed the character to 和 / harmony / and added the term for great: 大 to form the name 大和 which was read やまと. In parallel the name ひ の もと (日の本 with kanji) gained in popularity and finally replaced 大和 in the VIth century. The name then became 日本 (still pronounced ひ の もと), and slowly its pronunciation, influenced by the Chinese pronunciation [rìběn] (jiben) became にっぽん during the VIIth century. Several centuries passed until the Edo period where the pronunciation にほん (dialectal flexion of にっぽん) slowly started to spread until nowadays where it has become the main reading of the word日本.

  • 日(じつ) as a day:
    • れん れんや
    • / every day / every night /
    • / every day and every night /
  • 日 (ひ) as Sun or day:
    • の で
    • / Sun / {relation} / go out, come out /
    • / sunrise /
    • ふゆ の は さむい です。
    • / Winter / {relation} / days / {topic} / cold / to be /
    • / Winter days are cold. /
  • Now, lest have some fun ^^:
    • 今日 は 日よう日 です。(きょう・ にち・び – as seen in our first kanji lesson, び is an inflexion of ひ which happens when kanji starting with a character that can take a dakuten (゛) or handakuten (゜) are used in the middle or at the end of some words)
    • / today / {topic} / Sunday (day of week + Sun) / to be /
    • / Today is Sunday. /

  • Strokes: 5
  • Reading(s):
    • onyomi:
      • ホン
    • kunyomi:
      • もと (rare in words, frequent in family names)
  • Meaning(s):
    • book, volume, script
    • source, origin
    • truth,
    • counter for long cylindrical objects (remember that in the old times books scrolls were used to keep writings)
    • counter for films, TV shows…
    • counter for goals, home runs…
    • counter for telephone calls

Examples:

  • 本(ほん) as a book
    • ハリー・ポッター の を よみました か。 (ほん)
    • / Harry Potter / {relation} / books / {object} / read / {question} /
    • / Did (you) read Harry Potter books? /
    • だな に は は ありません。 (ほん・ほん)
    • / Bookshelf / {place} / {topic} / book / {topic} / not to exist /
    • / There is no book on the bookshelf. /
  • 本(ほん) as the source, origin or truth
    • たなかさん は 日本人 です (に・ほん・じん)
    • / Tanaka(-san) / {topic} / Japanese person / to be /
    • / tanaka is Japanese. /
  • 本 (ほん, ぼん, ぽん) as a counter
    • ワイン ボトル を 一 かった。(casual) (いっ・ぽん)
    • / wine / bottle / {object} / one long cylindrical object / bought /
    • / I bought one bottle of wine /
    • 昨日、えいが を 二 みました。 (きのう・に・ほん)
    • / yesterday / movie / {object} / two films / saw /
    • / (I) saw two movies yesterday. /

Yay! This is the end of this lesson. Don’t let all of this overwhelm you. Take it kanji by kanji and everything will go well.

See you soon!

Stéphane

 



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