Learning Kanji is a must
Apart from katakana words and particles, kanji are used for almost all words, that is, not only in nouns but also in adjectives, adverbs, and verbs.
In the case of adjectives, adverbs and verbs, we only put kanji at the root of the word.
For example, 私は 、 面白いテレビを家族と楽しく見ます。
は, を, と are the particles, therefore we leave them in Hiragana. テレビ is a Katakana word. So the nouns Watashi and Kazoku have their kanji (私, 家族), and the adjective Omoshiroi has a combination of kanji and hiragana (面白い), the same as the adverb Tanoshiku (楽しく) and the verb Miru (見る / 見ます).
In Spanish when you hear a word you can already know the spelling, as well as in Japanese with hiragana and katakana. In these cases, spelling is very easy. If someone pronounces “Fumi”, it will be written as it sounds, combining ふ and み.
But using kanji is more complicated, therefore, let’s go step by step.
Know the meaning of Kanji
If there is a word, “Fumi” for example, you should learn which kanji corresponds to this word.
There are several Kanji that carry the sound “Fumi” but if you are talking about “Fumi” with the meaning of “something written”, then the kanji would be 文.
Attention, this word is written with two hiragana but only one kanji.
But the word “moji”, which means “letter”, is written as 文字. It has kanji 文 for も and 字 for じ, therefore it has two hiragana and they become two kanji.
That means there is no clear rule, it can be one Kanji or several Kanji depending on the word and you have to memorize them.
For example, in the case of Kaze, か ぜ, wind, Kanji would be only one 風, but if it is from a cold, two 風邪.
Now we compare the kanji for Fumi 文 and Moji 文字. And you realize that Fumi and Mo de Moji are the same but with different sounds.
Kunyomi and Onyomi
It turns out that a Kanji, although it maintains its meaning, changes sound when combined with other kanji.
If this word has only one kanji, the sound would normally be Kunyomi. And when it appears as part of a kanji combination, it’s usually Onyomi.
Therefore “Fumi” is a kunyomi of 文. And “mo” of Moji is an Onyomi of 文. 文 has several Kunyomi and Onyomi.
Don’t go crazy with Jyouyou Kanji
At first, if you hesitate, you can write everything in hiragana. That would be much better than making mistakes, but in the end, especially for verbs, you have to learn Kanji because, if you leave them in hiragana, they can be confused when they have various meanings.
For example, Kaku かく can be 書く (write), 描く (draw), 掻く (scratch), 欠く (miss) etc.
It is said that you have to know 2136 kanji to lead a normal adult life, they are called “jyouyou kanji 常用漢字”. But don’t worry, you don’t have to go crazy to learn everything.
What you need to learn, however, is Jyukugo. It is much more practical in real life to know 500 kanji and your Jyukugo than to learn 2136 kanji without further ado.
What is Jyukugo?
When learning kanji 文, at least 3 or 4 Jyukugo must be learned at the same time.
What is jyukugo? When there is more than one kanji within a noun, this word is called Jyukugo.
There are many Jyukugo of 文 like bungaku 文学 (literature), bunka 文化 (culture), bunshou 文章 (text) etc. The sound “Bun” is an onyomi of 文.
You can see that these words that include the kanji 文, have the meaning of “something written” within the word, and another kanji is added to differentiate the meaning of one from the other.
First in Hiragana
Anyway, to avoid confusion between Kunyomi, Onyomi, etc., I always recommend that you learn vocabulary first in hiragana, and then confirm which kanji to use.
You have learned
In total: 18 Kanji and 6 Jyukugo.
文 文字 文学 文章 文化
書く 掻く 掻く 欠く
私 面白い 家族 楽しく 見 る