How come so many Japanese words can be written with alternative kanji that all have the same kun-yomi reading? Does it really make any difference whether we write, for example, うまれる as 生まれる or as 産まれる? Yes, it does — and learning the subtle differences between such kanji synonyms is part of the ongoing process of developing real Japanese proficiency.
This important but confusing subject is introduced and discussed in my new article, which you can read on the FluentU Japanese blog. After explaining the basics of kun-yomi kanji synonyms and giving general tips for learning them, I go over 15 common synonym pairs and give useful information on the differences in their meaning and usage, together with example phrases.
The article closes with some general study tips to help you learn kanji synonyms on your own, including a few handy online resources that are dedicated to disambiguating kanji (my favorite is Kanjipedia). It can be the beginning of a beautiful friendship between you and kanji synonyms — but only after you figure out if this beginning is 始め or 初め!
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