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There are two kanji which have a kun reading of mono. They are easy to confuse; but one refers to a person, and the other refers non-human (mostly inanimate) objects and materials.  


The first one, , refers to people. It generally follows the rule of being read in the on-yomi (SHA) when paired with another on-yomi, and with the kun-yomi (mono) when combined with the kun-yomi of another kanji. Below are some examples.

on-yomi + on-yomi

作者(さくしゃ) writer; author

学者(がくしゃ) scholar

愚者(ぐしゃ) idiot; fool


kun-yomi + kun-yomi

働き者(はたらきもの) hard worker

暴れ者(あばれもの) ruffian

愚か者(おろかもの) idiot; fool

What this kanji basically does is personify a quality, action, or state of being. For example, fushō 負傷 is a Sino-Japanese compound that means “sustaining injuries. The verb fushō suru 負傷する= to sustain an injury. When  is added to this compound, the result is fushō-sha 負傷者(the injured). Similarly, when you combine the verb namakeru 怠ける (=to be idle; to goof off), with , you get 怠け者 namakemono, which means “lazybones” or “slacker.”

The second mono kanji, , means “thing.” It has two on readings: BUTSU and MOTSU. As you can see from these examples, you can expect this kanji to follow the on + on / kun + kun rule:

on + on 

物価(ぶっか) price levels

動物(どうぶつ) animal



kun + kun 

安物(やすもの) cheap goods

冬物(ふゆもの)winter clothing

夏物(なつもの)summer goods; summer clothing


Also note that although both on readings BUTSU/MOTSU are “common,” BUTSU is somewhat more prevalent. There is also a distinguishable pattern of technical/scientific words favoring BUTSU:

物的(ぶってき) material; physical

物体(ぶったい) substance; object

鉱物(こうぶつ) mineral



The MOTSU reading is most common the end of words, like:

荷物(にもつ) luggage

穀物(こくもつ) grain

進物(しんもつ) present; gift

In fact, words that begin with the MOTSU reading of are quite rare. (One is mossōmeshi  物相飯 = prison rations)



To close this section, it would be appropriate to mention another kanji that carries the meaning of “thing.” : . The readings of this kanji are JI and koto. It refers to “things”—but abstractions rather than concrete beings and objects. These words should give you a sense of how this kanji is used:

出来事(できごと) event

国事(こくじ) affairs of state

記事(きじ) article

善事(ぜんじ)good deed

悪事(あくじ) evil deed