The Japanese language uses 3 writing systems:
Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji.
In Japanese, broadly three scripts are used in a mixed way.
Hiragana and Kanji are used widely in a sentence. Katakana is mainly used for borrowerd words from foreign language.
ラジオで日本の歌をきいた。(I heard a Japanese song on radio)
In the above sentence all the three scripts are used as follows:
Hiragana: で, の, を, きいた
Kanji: 日本, 歌
Table of Contents
The Goal of this Session
- Master Katakana alphabets within 3~20 days.
- To be able to pronounce the alphabets correctly.
- To be able to write Katakana alphabets with correct order of stroke.
- To be able to read simple vocabulary in Katakana. The main goal is to focus on reading, so do not worry about the meanings at this moment.
What is Katakana?
- Katakana is used for foreign loan words. For example,
Radio in Japanese is ラジオ(rajio),
Towel in Japanese is タオル(taoru),
Pen in Japaneses is ペン(pen), etc.
Such words which are borrowed from english language are written in Katakana.
Also, names of people or places from countries other than Japan are written in Katakana.
- Katakana and Hiragana alphabets represent exactly the same set of sounds.
- Katakana alphabets are formed by taking a part of Kanji.
- Katakana is also a set of 46 basic alphabets like Hiragana. All the rules are same as Hiragana.
- In addition to 46 basic Katakana letters called as gojuuon, there are modified sounds like:
20 dakuon , 5 handakuon, 36 yoon, 1 sokuon.
- You can download and print Katakana chart(PDF) for practice.
The meaning of each has been summarized below:
- Gojuuon(五十音): basic 46 alphabets
- Dakuon(濁音): addition of 2 small dots (called as dakuten) to the hiragana in カ(ka), サ(sa), タ(ta), and ハ(ha) rows.
adding 2 small dots to ハ(ha) becomes バ(ba).
- Handakuon(半濁音): addition of a small circle (called as handakuten)
adding a small circle to ハ(ha) becomes パ(pa)
- Yoon(拗音): is described by :
i-column letter + small ヤ(ya)、ユ(yu)、or ヨ(yo)
キ(ki) + small ヤ(ya) = キャ(kya)
- Sokuon(促音): is described by small ツ(tsu)
small ツ(tsu) means that the alphabet in the next character is doubled and a slight pause results.
For example, ハッピー(happi)
- In Katakana, long vowels are represented by adding a ー(dash).
コーヒー（coffee): prolong ‘o’ sound + prolong ‘i’ sound
- In Japanese, alphabets are organized in 5 x 10 matrix. This table is known as gojūon-zu which means `Table of 50 sounds`.
- In total, 46 letters (45+1) are counted as gojūon (50 sounds).
- The first row alphabets ア (a), イ (i), ウ (u), エ (e) and おオ(o) are five vowels of the Japanese language.
|a||ア a ||イ i ||ウ u ||エ e ||オ o |
|ka||カ ka||キ ki||ク ku||ケ ke||コ ko|
|sa||サ sa||シ shi ||ス su ||セ se ||ソ so |
|ta||タ ta||チ chi||ツ tsu||テ te||ト to|
|na||ナ na||ニ ni||ヌ nu||ネ ne||ノ no |
|ha||ハ ha||ヒ hi||ふ fu||ヘ he||ホ ho|
|ma||マ ma||ミ mi||ム mu||メ me||モ mo|
|ya||ヤ ya||ユ yu ||ヨ yo |
|ra||ラ ra||リ ri||ル ru||レ re||ロ ro|
|wa||ワ wa||ヲ wo |
- Dakuon means two small dots.
- Dakuon can be added only to カ(ka), サ(sa), タ(ta), and ハ(ha) rows. Dakuon is usually added to the right top of the letter.
- ジ and ヂ are pronounced the same as ji.
- ズ and ヅ are pronounced the same as zu.
- Handakuon means a small circle.
- Handakuon is added to the right top of ハ(ha) row only.
- Addition of small ヤ(ya), ユ(yu), or ヨ(yo) to consonants is known as Yoon(拗音)
i-column letter + small ヤ(ya)、ユ(yu)、or ヨ(yo)
|ki||キャ kya ||キュ kyu ||キョ kyo |
|shi||シャ sha ||シュ shu ||ショ sho |
|chi||チャ cya ||チュ cyu ||チョ cyo |
|ni||ニャ nya ||ニュ nyu ||ニョ nyo |
|hi||ヒャ hya ||ヒュ hyu ||ヒョ hyo |
|mi||ミャ mya ||ミュ myu ||ミョ myo |
|ri||リャ rya ||リュ ryu ||リョ ryo |
|gi||ギャ gya ||ギュ gyi ||ギョ gyo |
|ji||ジャ ja ||ジュ ji ||ジョ jo |
|di||ヂャ dya ||ヂュ dyu ||ヂョ dyo |
|bi||ビャ bya ||ビュ byu ||ビョ byo |
|pi||ピャ pya ||ピュ pyu ||ピョ pyo |
Practice test 1
Practice test 2
1. Video lessons
2. Fun way to Memorize!!
To memorize the Katakana letters, we have provided a video link that will help you to learn musically! It will also help you in developing your listening skills because songs can be useful in language learning as they provide a format for memorizing vocabulary and rhythm of the language.
So, we suggest you to become a kid again and use your creativity to widen your language learning potential
Did You know ?
Japan in Japanese is Nihon or Nippon.
For more practice, we recommend the books below. Click on any book to get a detailed review. Also check out some popular dictionaries and Flip cards that can boost your study method.
Practice reading and writing Katakana alphabets as many times as you can until you become Perfect. And then you are ready to shift to JLPTN5 and learning Kanjis.