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In last week’s blog, we saw how a single can change “deep in the night” (夜中, yonaka) into “all night” (夜中中, yonakajū). Despite its simple shape, packs quite a punch. And with , you get three suffixes for the price of one! That is, the suffix -中 has three meanings. As the meaning changes, so might the yomi. Let’s look at each meaning.


1. Period of Time:

Let’s say you have a compound expressing a period of time (a day, week, month, year, and so on). The suffix -中 (pronounced -JŪ) enables you to convey that something happened throughout that period of time. A few examples:


一日 (ichinichi: one day) 一日中 (ichinichijū: all day long)
今週 (konshū: this week) 今週中 (konshūjū: throughout this week;
konshūchū: within this week)
一年 (ichinen: one year) 一年中 (ichinenjū: all year round)

For a Note About 今週中

On How Your Days Are Numbered …

For the most part, this table is straightforward. Even the breakdowns are self-explanatory. But there’s an exception to the pattern:

午前 (gozen: morning,        午前中 (gozenchū: all morning)
noon + before)

This compound refers to a period of time but atypically uses the yomi CHŪ. A mnemonic may help with this aberration:

All morning I chew.


2. Place:

When a word refers to a place, adding -中 (again pronounced -JŪ) indicates “throughout” that place:


日本 (Nihon: Japan)
     Japan + origin
日本中 (Nihonjū: all over Japan)
世界 (sekai: world)
     world + world
世界中 (sekaijū: all over the world)
部屋 (heya: room)
     section + house
部屋中 (heyajū: the whole room)

(ie: family, house) 家中 (iejū: all over the house, the whole family)

A Deeper Look at 家中


3. Activity: CHŪ

By adding -中 (this time read as -CHŪ) to a noun, you indicate that an activity is under way:


会議 (kaigi: meeting)
     to meet + to discuss
会議中 (kaigichū: meeting in
外出 (gaishutsu: trip, going out)
     out + to go out
外出中(gaishutsuchū: out of the
office, while away/out)
使用 (shiyō: use, application)
     to use + to prepare
使用中 (shiyōchū: in use)
工事 (kōji: construction)
     construction + event
工事中 (kōjichū: under
考慮 (kōryo: consideration, taking into account)
     to consider + to show
考慮中 (kōryochū: under
貸し出し(kashidashi: lending)
     to lend + to go out
貸し出し中 (kashidashichū: out on loan)

I love the rhyme in kashidashi!

On Pairing Off
Single Kanji with -中


An Offensive Mnemonic

With two yomi for the three -中 suffixes, it can be hard to remember which pronunciation goes with which usage. Here are two mnemonics:

There’s a time and a place for Jews.
Chewing is an activity.

I know the first one sounds anti-Semitic, but as I’m Jewish, I think I’m off the hook!

For Another Mnemonic
Involving Jews …

Enough of all this! It’s time for you to have fun with a Verbal Logic Quiz.

For the Verbal Logic Quiz …