漢語 (Chinese-origin) vs 和語 (Japanese-origin) word table

Japanese takes a lot from Chinese in its origin, as the language was shaped on top of the kanji writing system (Japanese writing systems) in its history. However, on the other hand, the kanji writing system was also adapted on top of the already existing spoken Japanese language.

This gave birth to two sets of words/compound phrases to say similar things in the language. These are so-called 漢語 (かんご, chinese + language) and 和語 (わご, japanese + language) words.

Differences

漢語 words are usually written as kanji compounds and usually read the Chinese way (音読み), whereas 和語 words are usually written as single kanji + おくりがな and read the Japanese way (訓読み), although this is not a hard rule, there are exceptions.

A lot of 漢語 verbs take する and usually have a 和語 counterpart which may or may not have a slightly different meaning. 漢語 する verbs are usually used in more official situations and sound more fancy/stiff, whereas 和語 words are simpler and easier to the ear. However, it is normal in everyday Japanese speech to use either in equal frequency so both options should be studied and remembered equally.

Comparison Table

The following is a table of 和語 vs 漢語 words that I’m compiling as I come across them in my studies. It is not exhaustive, but so far I haven’t been able to find a similar comprehensive resource so it’ll have to do.

For 和語 verbs, I list either transitive or intransitive form as I see fit, but keep in mind that it doesn’t really matter, it works either way. What’s important to keep in mind is the kanji+おくりがな pairing vs the jukugo pair in 漢語.

和語漢語
加わる参加する
変わる変化する
止まる停止する
話す会話する
歩く散歩する
探す探索する
訳す翻訳する
黙る沈黙する
過ごす経過する

NOTE: As mentioned above, meanings may not map 1:1 as 漢語 words usually carry some additional nuance (due to the more complex nature of 熟語), so it should only be taken at face value.