Hi I had a question about the Kanji used to represent さい in relation to age. I see on this website and on some Kanji cards I am using to revise that they use 才 but in another text I have the Kanji of 歳 is used. I was wondering if there were some rules of usage & what the difference is?
Great question. I always had the impression that 才 was used for younger ages and 歳 was used for older. This is because 才 is taught to grade children instead of 歳 since 歳 isn't introduced until much later. Children will have a much easier time.
However my research has shown that 才 is actually not a proper way to say "years old".
才 is used in words like sainou 才能 (talent) and tensai 天才 (genius) and really does NOT mean "year".
But since it is tedious to write 歳 Japanese has evolved to use 才 in place of it. In Japanese language 歳 is actually the correct way to write "years old" however 才 is now also accepted.
The really fun thing about this is the fact that even Japanese people are asking the very same question you have asked.
So now YOU can educate the Japanese people who don't know the answer.
but how to tell the difference between sai 才 and o オ Im finding it hard to tell the difference between sai 才 and o オ, im using an app to learn japanese called memrise, but i still find myself using google translate or the internet to break down new stuff im learning, and one of the things ive come across is the symbols for sai and o are practically identical, so when reading japanese, is there a way to tell which one is which, because if i didnt already know genius is tensai 天才, i could have easily thought it was pronounced teno 天オ at a quick glance. so is there a way to know which is which?