Do you think that knowing Chinese helped you studying Japanese and vice versa?

For those who study Chinese and Japanese, do you think that knowing Chinese helped you studying Japanese and vice versa or not that much?

A friend of mine, who studied both, told me that her professor once told her: Japanese students are relaxed at the beginning, but then they cry. While Chinese students cry at the beginning but in the end can relax.

Do you agree with that?

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Hi Ottavia,
I am Japanese who study Chinese.
As being Japanese, I am so lucky to find many words what I can guess their meaning.
But I can’t pronounce them correct without teachers. I am not sure what Chinese feel to study Japanese.
Thank you


Thanks for your comment Emi and welcome to our forum :slight_smile:

It’s interesting to hear your thoughts as a native Japanese. I am the opposite way around, confident with Mandarin but learning Japanese at a beginner level.

I also agree, it helps with reading and guessing the meaning but doesn’t give us much help speaking.

I remember when I was in Japan and I saw certain characters on the menu, it really helped, but I wasn’t sure how to say it to the waiter/waitress, so I would say


I would try to learn along the way!

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Hi Ottavia, as a native Mandarin speaker learning Japanese I think being able to read and guess the meanings of some of the Kanji definitely helps, but as the others are saying, the pronunciations are different. I feel like being able to identify some kanji sometimes also gives me a false sense of knowing more than I actually do?


Interestingly put and I’d tend to agree :sweat_smile:

My friend who studied Japanese advised me that, after I finish studying Chinese, I should choose Japanese as my next language because many characters are the same, so I wouldn’t need to take much time to read.

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Thanks for sharing Emi, very interesting!

I feel it’s very similar with Italian and Spanish. I’m Italian and I can understand a lot in Spanish, however there’re some letters that have a completely different pronunciation!

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I totally understand your point!

Italians have the same feeling with Spanish! Many people here in Italy think the “can speak” Spanish just because it’s very similar, but they actually have their differences!

without a teacher or without a dictionary?

Getting used to Japanese kanji took me many years. I have only dabbled in Chinese since then but I can immediately see that my brain is able to quickly recognize and remember Chinese hanzu quite easily. Of course, the pronunciations are a different story but it’s a huge help. Hanzu and kanji are quite useful for guessing the meanings of words you don’t necessarily know but awful when it comes to pronouncing them - even words you kind of know maybe aren’t on the tip of your tongue. In my opinion, nothing beats a good alphabet.

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Hi, Max.
Yes, if you know Chinese it is easy guess the each one character and some written words in Japan.
But there are so many frequently used words and word order are different.
The most annoying is the particles…
So many Chinese live I Japan speak Japanese using 的 which could be の in Japanese even we don’t use 的 function. But they are usually very fluent in Japanese even with a plenty of mistakes than Japanese to who wants to speak Mandarin.

Hello fellow learners,
I am fluent in Japanese, and that helps me SO MUCH to learn Cantonese, which I am currently studying.
It is hard to learn all the necessary vocabulary of a new language when you start from scratch, as when I learnt Japanese. But with Cantonese, I realize that I already have a large vocabulary right from the start. Of course the characters in that vocabulary are read differently, but Japanese kanji have different onyomi and kunyomi readings anyway (having at least two on readings and three kun readings is common), so I just need to add one more reading, the gwongdung yomi hehehe.
Also, I am fascinated to be learning about all the influence that Japanese language received from Chinese, so all in all I feel I get a lot in return from my studies. I hope not to relax and not to cry in the future, but to keep on enjoying this beautiful path of learning new languages.


This is super interesting to hear. I love hearing how much the Asian languages can correspond. Always gives that extra bit of motivation to pursue the journey.

Thanks for sharing @Jordi_Learning_Cantonese

I had no idea knowing Japanese could help learn Cantonese like this! Very interesting indeed, thank you for sharing :slight_smile: