What’s the Difference Between Kanji and Hanzi?

Hanzi and kanji are the Chinese and Japanese pronunciations of the term 漢字 that is used in the two dialects. It alludes to the Chinese characters that the two dialects use in their writing systems. Chinese is composed altogether in hanzi, and Japanese uses Chinese characters.

Despite that, are hanzi and kanji still very similar? They’re both 漢字 and could be interpreted as “Chinese characters,”yet are the character sets in both are equivalent?

A large portion of the research and studies state that the Chinese and Japanese character sets are the same more often than not. I also stand by that statement. And, in this article, we will be talking about hanzi and kanzi, how they vary, and how much they overlap each other.

The primary thing that is missing is any of the historical backdrops of how the current circumstance came about, which is a significant series of improvements. What’s beneath is the simple summary of the differences between hanzi and kanji character sets in the present day.

1. They are Pronounced Differently

We should begin with a super-evident contrast among hanzi and kanji. Despite havinga similar writing system(or if nothing else is fundamentally the same with one another), hanzi and kanji serve different languages. In that capacity, the Chinese pronunciation of a hanzi is normally altogether different from the Japanese pronunciation of the equal kanji (occasionally, the pronunciation might be comparable.)

This expands more remote than Chinese and Japanese. Korean also uses Chinese characters, calling them hanja (한자), and the pronunciation is to some degree diverse once more (even though closer to Chinese than Japanese, supposedly.)China’s enormous assortment of dialects and language gatherings can also be composed using hanzi, in spite of having altogether different pronunciation.

A quick example:

That character is pronunciation as chéng in Mandarin Chinese yet makoto or sei in Japanese. Note that there are different conceivable pronunciations for Japanese kanji, though most of hanzi in Chinese have just a single conceivable pronunciation. There are some Chinese hanzi with different conceivable pronunciation; however, they’re singled out as extraordinary in the classification 多音字 (duōyīnzì– numerous reading characters).

This said difference isn’t generally that important in recognizing writing systems, yet it may be useful to know about this in case you’re new to either language.

I think European dialects pronunciation of the Latin letter set makes a worthy similarity for this. Many words might be composed a similar route crosswise over European dialects, yet pronunciation is unexpected. This is comparable here and there to the circumstance with hanzi/kanji/hanja in East Asia (and altogether different in different ways).

Be that as it may, the issue of hanzi and kanji being pronounced contrastingly isn’t so obvious. Present day Mandarin Chinese’s etymologically is a significant on-going thing, and its pronunciation can be unique to pronunciation to the Chinese of the past and other Chinese dialects/vernaculars.

On the off chance that you think about that Mandarin (普通话) used to be called 官话–“official discourse”– you can see that it was created from the beginning as a formalized, institutionalized language, and not even a natural one (in spite of the fact that it is obviously intensely dependent on natural Beijing Chinese). The Chinese of the past were in reality substantially more like Japanese in its pronunciation of hanzi/kanji.

You may also consider that numerous Chinese dialects/vernaculars are more like Japanese in pronunciation than Mandarin is. One model that springs to mind is the hanzi transliterations of the names of some places.

For instance, Cambridge is called 劍橋 (Jiànqiáo) in Mandarin. The second character is connected, which makes sense for its importance, so how about we disregard it for the pronunciation. The main character doesn’t appear to make much sense– it doesn’t sound fundamentally the same as the English Cam, and the signifying “sword” is by all accounts irrelevant.

In Cantonese, in any case, that hanzi is pronounced gim3, and in Japanese, the equivalent kanji is pronounced ken. These are substantially more like the English Cam, and, all the more vitally, to one another. So, you can see that while Mandarin pronunciation of hanzi can be altogether different, other Chinese dialects may have held more important similarities with Japanese from the more established Chinese where the pronunciation of the two dialects originated.

2. Other systems of Japanese besides Kanji

This is only a quick note for anybody reading this who has no information of either language included. Chinese is composed totally in hanzi. Japanese uses kanji (generally like hanzi), yet it has two syllabaries of its own: hiragana and katakana. See here for a somewhat senseless examination of the two writing systems.

So while writing Chinese resembles a progression of the normal square formed characters, Japanese likewise has plenty of squiggly bits tossed in:

Chinese: 我的氣墊船滿是鱔魚。

Japanese: 私のホバークラフトは鰻でいっぱいです.

What we’re keen on here; however, are the Chinese characters used in the two dialects. The Chinese sentence above is written in them totally, while the Japanese sentences, just use two (私 and 鰻).

3. Clear differences of hanzi and kanji

Another genuinely clear difference! During the twentieth century, different cycles of the Chinese government took the risk to improve and institutionalize the Chinese character set (hanzi). This new/institutionalized character set is known as Simplified Chinese (简体字–jiǎntǐzì) and is effectively discernable from Japanese kanji where the distinctions apply.

Most of the people never preferred the term Simplified Chinese and how it’s used. Right off the bat, in case you’re inexperienced with these issues, ‘Simplified Chinese’ makes it seem like the real language has been disentangled somehow or another. That is not the situation by any means – just the genuine type of the characters has been changed. It would be what could be compared to making the Latin letters in order quicker to compose by streamlining the letters.

Besides, Simplified Chinese is regularly offered as a choice among different dialects. This makes sense when you need your interface or site in various dialects, as the vast majority who read Chinese are unquestionably more all right with one-character set than the other. In spite of that, despite everything, I despise displaying it as an alternate “language” when it’s not.

Anyway, Simplified Chinese hanzi are anything but difficult to recognize from Japanese kanji. Be that as it may, just a limited extent of hanzi was ever disentangled – most have been left unaltered. So, you can recognize streamlined hanzi and kanji when you’ve got one of the simplified hanzi.

How about we reuse our example previously:

诚 versus 誠

This hanzi/kanji signifies “genuineness” and “truthfulness” in the two dialects, even though in Japanese it additionally implies things like “rebukes” and “restrict” (more on variation implications beneath).

The rendition on the left is the Simplified Chinese hanzi, and the adaptation on the privilege is used in both conventional Chinese and Japanese. The thing that matters is in the radical on the left of the character, which signifies “speech.”It’s composed 讠 in rearranged Chinese and 言 in the other character sets.

Where hanzi have been simplified, they are promptly recognizable as Chinese. Simplified Chinese is used chiefly in Singapore, Malaysia, and the territory of China.

4.Much more Simplified Japanese Kanji

Composed Chinese isn’t the only one in having experienced simplification. Japanese kanji were additionally simplified by the Japanese government after the Second World War. This new character set is called 新字体 (shinjitai). It’s diverse again to rearrange Chinese (简体字jiǎntǐzì), in spite of having a comparable philosophy: lessen the number of strokes in certain characters and streamline parts.

Before these rearrangements, the composed types of Japanese kanji were identical to customary Chinese hanzi. So now we’re managing three distinctive character sets conventional hanzi (繁體字), disentangled hanzi (简体字), and improved kanji (新字体).

So, there are characters that are distinctive in each of the three sets:

鐵–铁–鉄 traditional/original – simplified Chinese – simplified Japanese

That is the hanzi/kanji for “iron,”the metal. The first is the first, customary/”unique” Chinese form, the one in the center is the streamlined Chinese hanzi, and the one on the privilege is disentangled Japanese kanji.

This is a fascinating model. The Chinese simplification modified the two sides of the character; while the Japanese rearrangements have left the radical 金 unaltered however streamlined the right-hand side.

In any case, what I think is most often overlooked is in the two simplifications, Chinese and Japanese, it was just a minority of characters that got changed. So both Chinese hanzi and Japanese kanji are still to a great extent a similar character set as the “first” customary Chinese.

5. Meanings are often DISTINCTIVE between hanzi and kanji

The presentation of Chinese hanzi into Japan was not efficient or finished with any speed. It occurred over a significant lot of time, and one aftereffect of this is Japanese kanji regularly have a few additional implications to their Chinese hanzi partners or have distinctive implications. This sprung up with the 誠 precedent above. As a Japanese kanji, it has a few bigger numbers of implications than the Chinese hanzi.

Again, however, regardless of these differences, often, the implications are the equivalent or fundamentally the same as driving me to state that hanzi and kanji are commonly similar writing systems.

I’ve stated different contrasts among hanzi and kanji here, at the end of the day, I need to accentuate that these character sets are generally the equivalent. There are different renditions and contrasts in style and so forth. However, as writing systems, they are incredibly comparable. I figure the proportionate for a spoken language would be two accents for a similar language.

How to tell the difference between Chinese and Japanese Characters

At first look, Chinese, Japanese characters might be hard to differentiate, yet there are contrasts between every one of them that can support you. Every one of the two is composed of characters that are new to Western readers, yet you shouldn’t be scared by the newness.

How does Japanese and Chinese writing vary? How can you tell their disparities? To numerous Westerners, the two dialects are everything except vague on paper. This time, let us learn the connection between composed Chinese and Japanese.

The beginning of Chinese and Japanese Writings

The Chinese writing is accepted to have its underlying foundations, thinking back to the second thousand years BC while the Japanese composition (for this situation, the Kanji) one had no writing system. It was essentially acquired and imported characters from China around the eighth century CE. The Kanji system was to be later used to compose action words roots, things, and descriptive words since the improvement of the kana syllabaries.

Likewise, the Chinese composing altogether depends on hanzi, while the Japanese Kanji writing depends intensely on the use of Chinese characters.


The primary regular parts of the two dialects are the nouns. A noun, as you know, is a word that assigns something and could likewise be known as a “name.”Things – in Chinese, as much as in Japanese – don’t have a sexual orientation (ladylike or manly) or number (particular or plural).

For instance, the Italian words “gatto,”“gatta,”“gatte” and “gatti” (feline/s) all compare to the Chinese word 猫 (mao) and the Japanese 猫 (neko).

This normal part of Chinese and Japanese render the things in these dialects simple to use(in light of the fact that they don’t change), yet confusing to translate (on the grounds that you completely can’t know the sexual orientation or number – you’ll have to take a look at the expression’s unique circumstance).

Names and titles

In Chinese and Japanese, the surname precedes the primary name. Chinese names are commonly framed by 2 or most extreme three characters; the Japanese rather can even go up to 4 characters (really, it’s a standard practice).

In the two dialects, titles and callings must follow the surname. In Chinese, we have 王先生 (Wang xiangsheng), which signifies “Mr. Wang”; in Japanese, we have 小林先生 (Kobayashi sensei), which signifies “Teacher Kobayashi.”It is significant that the word 先生 is pronounced diversely and furthermore has alternate importance!


The numeric arrangement of the two dialects works a similar way, and the characters used to speak to numbers are the equivalent, even though there are phonetic differences.


Another regular angle between the two dialects is the used of classifiers. When we need to firm numeric or quantitative pronunciation, for example, “two books,”“three note pads,”“five pens,”you need to use the number followed by a character that is customarily called a classifier.

Several classifiers fluctuate based on the thing that they, clearly, must order. For instance, on the off chance that we need to state “three books,” you should have the number followed by a particular classifier for items that can be leafed-through.

Overall it must be said that a similar character does not generally order a similar sort of items, creatures or individuals. For instance, the character 匹 in Chinese is perused “pi” and is used as a classifier for steeds, while in Japanese you state “ippiki” or “hiki” (the elocution fluctuates on the number present) and is used to arrange little creatures like felines.

The second distinction – which as I would see it is more noteworthy – is in the standard of the utilization of classifiers, which is diverse for both languages.

Rule of use in Chinese:

Number + Classifier + Noun

Here’s a precedent: 一只猫 (yizhimao), which signifies “one feline.”

Rule of use in Japanese:

Thing + Particle が (ga)+ Number + Classifier.

Here’s a precedent: 猫が一匹( nekogaippiki), which likewise signifies “one feline.”

The basic inquiries

Chinese and Japanese have different methods for framing questions. The most widely recognized (a maybe most used) comprises in embedding a “molecule” toward the finish of positive expression.

In Chinese, toward the finish of a confirmed expression, you embed the character 吗 (mama); in Japanese, you would embed the molecule か (ka.


Agreed: 你是中国人 (nishizhongguo ren), which signifies: “you are Chinese.”

Interrogative: 你是中国人吗 (nishizhongguo ren mama), which signifies: “would you say you are Chinese?”


Agreed: 君は日本人です (kimiwanihonjindesu), which signifies: “you are Japanese.”

Interrogative: 君は日本人ですか (kimiwanihonjindesu ka), which signifies: “would you say you are Japanese?”

Tones and Pitch Accents

The two works share no phonetic similarities. This is because Chinese writing is tonal, while the Japanese one uses a pitch complement. For instance, Mandarin Chinese has around four tones, notwithstanding an unbiased one while Japanese has a pitch highlight system, that is, with rising and falling sounds.

Phonemes in Chinese and Japanese

Chinese composing has around 420 sound mixes. The Japanese composition, then again, has less stable blends, around 110 of them.

Vowels in Chinese and Japanese

Chinese composition utilizes ten vowels, while Japanese composing has just five.

Consonants in Chinese and Japanese

Concerning the consonants, Chinese composing has an aggregate of 25 while Japanese has 18.

Language structure and Syntax

The fundamental structure of sentences in the two languages varies as well. For example, the word request for Chinese is dependably an SVO (subject – an action word – object) while the Japanese composing pursues an SOV request, that is, subject-object – an action word.

While Chinese has a “simple” and diminished sentence structure (when contrasted with English or Italian), the Japanese have a “troublesome” and rather vast language.

In Chinese action, words and descriptors are not consolidated, in Japanese they are. A syntactic similarity is that the two dialects have a “topic remark” structure.

I want to make a point: one language isn’t more difficult than the others. These are simply dialects that are further off from our first language and, therefore, they’re progressively hard to learn.

By and by, I might want to share John Pasden’s impression: as indicated by him, if looking at the two dialects, first and foremost, it is more earnestly to get familiar with the Japanese sentence structure than the Chinese; while it is more enthusiastically to an ace pronunciation of Chinese more than Japanese. Long term, the trouble tends to “flip failure.”

Chinese versus Japanese Writings

Origin2nd Millennium BC18th Century CE
Tone and PitchThe writing is tonalThe writing uses pitch accent with rising and falling intonations
PhonemesHas 420 sound combinationsHas 110 sound combinations
VowelsHas 10 vowelsHas 5 vowels
ConsonantsHas 21 consonantsHas 18 consonants



As you’ve seen, the entire issue of the contrasts among hanzi and kanji is quite confusing and can’t be abridged without a reasonable piece of clarification. Disregarding that unpredictability, I’ve attempted to drastically decrease the issues included and make a stream-lined succession of occasions for the uniqueness of hanzi and kanji. This isn’t at all unwavering to order; it’s simply expected to be an unpleasant summary of all the applicable occasions:

  • Hanzi created in China. Kanji doesn’t exist yet.
  • Hanzi is presented in Japan as Chinese composition.
  • Japanese individuals receive hanzi to compose their own language: kanji.
  • Japanese individuals add to and adjust the implications of some kanji.
  • Japanese individuals imagine some kanji of their own.
  • Japanese individuals produce new contents inexactly dependent on kanji.
  • Separately, the Chinese government rearrange shanzi, and Japanese government disentangles kanji.

Much like different dialects, Chinese and Japanese have a larger number of contrasts than likenesses. Even though the Japanese, for the most part, use Chinese kanji to depict normal words, they can be pronounced distinctively and used contrastingly in sentences. It is far simpler to recognize the two dialects dependent on their disparities.

At first or for a student, the Chinese and Japanese words may seem comparable. The characters, like this, will be hard to recognize or differentiate. Nonetheless, as examined above, there are remarkable contrasts dependent on the shifted qualities related to each. Aside from the way that the Japanese composition framework, Kanji obtained quite a bit of its characters from Chinese, they are exclusively standing dialects spoken by two separate gatherings of individuals.

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