If you're like me, you constantly forget if a kanji's ONyomi is a long or a short vowel. In Kanjidamage, I tried to deal with this through the mnemonics; the LONG ONyomi (SHOU, KOU, etc.) are given regular keywords, but their short counterparts (SHO, KO, etc.) are given acronym keywords to set them apart (Smell HIs Organs, Knocked Out, respectively).

But even with my insulting acronyms, the long-vs-short battle is far from won. So here's another resource you can use to help you guess the pronunciation, when you inevitably forget.


Don't worry, you don't have to do them because I already did.

Following is a list of all the long-short ONyomi, presented as a sporting contest between Team Long and Team Short. Important caveat; It's not a total of ALL kanji, just the 1,700 in the KD system. You know, the useful ones.

Without further ado, here's the winners of our fictional contest:

bou vs. bo
9 long, 0 short

chou vs. cho
10 long, 1 short

chuuu vs. chu
7 long, 0 short

fuu vs. fu
long 1, short 6 - THE UNDERDOG WINS!

gou vs. go
3 long, 3 short TIE

gyou vs. gyo
3 long, 0 short

hou vs. ho
9long, 1 short

hyou vs. hyo
5 long, 0 short

jou vs. jo
10 long, 3 short

juu vs. ju
3 long, 2 short

kou vs. ko
22 long vs. 11 short

kuu vs. ku
1 long, 4 short - THE UNDERDOG WINS!

kyou vs. kyo
4 short, 11 long

kyuu vs. kyu
8 long, 0 short

mou vs. mo
1 long, 1 short TIE and isn't it odd there aren't more of those mo/mou kanji?

nou vs. no
4 long, 0 short

nyuu vs. nyu
2 long, 0 short

ou vs. o
6 long, 1 short

rou vs. ro
2 long, 1 short AMBIGUOUS

ryou vs. ryo
4 long, 1 short

shou vs. sho
19 long, 8 short

shuu vs. shu
10 long, 5 short

sou vs. so
2 long, 4 short - THE UNDERDOG WINS!

tou vs.to
10 long, 3 short

you vs. yo
7 long, 0 short???

yuu vs. yu
4 long 3 short TIE, ALMOST

zou vs. zo
2 long, 0 short.


The longs won 22 of 27!

8 of those victories were total; that is to say, there are NO short versions, so you don't even have to worry about it. The shorts just vanished, just like your moms' shorts did on a live taping of American Idol.

The shorts won a whopping 3 of 27.

2 ties.


OK, you might say, but some of these ONyomi - like KOU/KO or SHOU/SHO are much more common than other ONyomi, such as MOU/MO or BOU/BO. Yes, that's a valid point.

Well, so let's calculate just using raw numbers of words then.

Of the 288 kanji included in this list, LONG is like 228, and SHORT is like 60.

SO, shorts are around 21 PERCENT of the total.

Long ones are 80 percent. Ish.


tl;dr, just guess the long version.

Also, instead of memorizing all 288 kanjis' long/short ONyomi, if you're in a rush, it might pay you to simply memorize the list of ONyomi where SHORT is more common.

FU, KU, SO. That's it. You're welcome.

Also, don't forget to memorize the ones that are TIED (equal chance of it being either): GOU/GO, MOU/MO, YUU/YU