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Kana Rules

By アラン  ミラー 


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ひらがな HIRAGANA

Particles

ga marks the subject by following it. Is only used in statements not interrogatives.

ha (pronounced wa) marks the topic by following it. Can be used in any sentence.

ka is like a question mark at the end of the sentence. For example
    わかりますか   wakarimasu ka meaning do you undersand?

ni means at, by, for, from, in, on, or to.

no makes the previous word possessive.

to means and when following nouns. The last noun has one too.

wo (pronounced o) follows the direct object. It is used in sentences like "Terebi o mimashita.", which means "I watched television." "Television" is the direct object of the verb "to watch", so the o-particle is needed. This is usually pronounced "o" but historically falls on the w-line, as it used to be pronounced "wo."


Long Vowels

The long vowels a, i, and u are doubled in Romaji and appear as a second vowel in Hiragana
   ゆう  yuu meaning evening
The long o is written as ou or ô except at the beginning of the word where it is oo.
   ありがとう arigatô meaning thank you
The long e is written as ei. An exception is
   ええ ee meaning yes.
Long vowels for foreign words in katakana are marked by chô-on or 長音 (long sound)
   コーヒー kôhî meaning coffee.

Double Consonant, Sokuon

The Romaji double consonant, sokuon 促音 requiring a glottal stop is rendered by a small tsu, in Hiragana and in Katakana.
  きって kitte meaning stamp
  ホット hotto meaning hot

Voiced Sounds, Nigori

The voiceless consonants k, s, t, and h can be changed to dakuon 濁音 the voiced sounds g, z, d, and b with the diacritical tenten (dot-dot) . This mark is called dakuten 濁点 or nigori 濁り. The consonant h is changed to handakuon 半濁音 the p sound, with the diacritical maru (circle) . This mark is called handakuten 半濁点.

Palatalized Sounds, Youon

Mora ending in i can be followed by a small ゃゅょ (ya, yu, or yo) to make new mora called 拗音 youon. For example, is pronounced sho.

Western sounds in Katakana

Western sounds in loan words are formed by adding a small vowel to a regular character. For example
ファイル File Fairu
See kana for more examples.

Examples of Long Vowels and Consonants

余暇 yoka = spare time
八日 yôka = eight days (long vowel)
四日 yokka = four days (double consonant)


See also: Kana and Romanization

 

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Revised: November 29, 2014