What happens if I use hiragana instead of kanji to write Japanese?

Hekturr wrote in to ask:

Hello, yes i have a question with the alphabets in Japanese. I know it’s Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji, but my question resides on when to use them. I know you use Katakana for foregin words, and you use Kanji as much as possible, and Hiragana for anything after that,

Yep, that’s the basic idea!

but say I use Hiragana when a Kanji can be used. Will everyone know what i’m trying to say since i didn’t use the Kanji?

In most cases yes. When people don’t know the kanji, especially if it is a tough one or if you are writing for children who don’t know many kanji yet, then you can write it in hiragana and most people will understand. If it is a fairly easy kanji that most people know and you write it in hiragana, it’s a dead give away that you’re not Japanese!

The biggest problem comes when writing about science or other complicated topics as many Japanese words would look the same in hiragana, so you have to know the kanji to know which word you mean.

Also it’s much, much easier to quickly read a document in kanji. Hiragana takes forever!

How many Kanji characters are there?

About 2,000 that are recommend for everyone to know. That’s around 3 years if you do two a day!

Thank you in advance.

You’re welcome,

Be genki,


2 Responses to “What happens if I use hiragana instead of kanji to write Japanese?”

  1. shireen mohideen says:

    Would u mind explaining briefly about kanji…
    And few clear examples..

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