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Once you get past learning the kana, the daunting task of learning kanji rears its ugly head. Even for the Japanese this task is troublesome, considering that businessmen pay premium dollar to pass the kanji kentei. Supposedly, fewer than 10% of the people taking the highest level test pass it. However, for most basic reading quite a few less than 6,000 are needed and most of them have a logical system to understand the meaning. In fact, the system is quite a lot like English prefixes with the prefix applying a general meaning to another word. This means it doesn’t have to be just rote memorization. This also means you can learn from your past mistakes:

(yes, I know its a Chinese reading)

For example, the kanji (か) means “able” or “ible”. Take for instance: 可燃物 (かねんぶつ;flammable) or 可溶性 (かようせい; soluble). The first kanji modifies the meaning of the last two in a standard way according to its meaning.

Top Ten (or so) list:
1)  (ぎゃく; reverse, counter): 逆効果 (ぎゃくこうか;counterproductive), 逆コース (reverse course)
2) (ぜん; last, former,ex-): 前首相 (ぜんしゅしょう; ex-prime minister), 前世紀 (ぜんせいき; last century)
3) (ぜん; all, whole, entire, full):  全国民 (ぜんこくみん; whole nation), 全人口 (ぜんじんこう; entire population)
4)  (そう; entire, full, grand): 総選挙 (そうせんきょ; general election), 総合計 (そうごうけい; grand total), 総攻撃 (そうこうげき; full scale attack)
5)  (たい; to, with, anti): 対米輸出(たいべいゆしゅつ; exports to America), 対日貿易(たいにちぼうえき, trade with Japan), 対空ミサイル(たいくう; anti-aircraft missile)
6)  (たい; -proof): 耐火(たいか; fireproof), 耐熱 (たいねつ; heat resistant)
7)  (ちょう; super, ultra): 超特急(ちょうとっきゅう; super express (train)), 超音波 (ちょうおんぱ; ultra sonic waves)
8)  (どう; same): 同世代 (どうせいたい; same generation), 同年配 (どうねんぱい; same age)
9)  (はん; anti, counter): 反社会的 (はんしゃかいてき; anti-social), 反作用(はんさよう; counter action)
10) (ひ; un, non): 非金属 (ひきんぞく; non-metal), 非科学的 (ひかがくてき; unscientific), 非核 (ひかく; non-nuclear)
11)  (ふ; un, in, dis): 不自然 (ふしぜん; unnatural), 不正確 (ふせいかく; inaccurate, incorrect), 不満足 (ふまんぞく, discontent)

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