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Learn Katakana: A Simple Guide

Updated: Feb 4, 2019

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こんにちは, everyone!


I hope you are all having a blast studying Japanese! As promised, here's our in-depth katakana lesson.


Before we get started, make sure you've checked out our Hiragana Lesson already.

Without further ado, let's get into the lesson.


 

TODAY'S VOCABULARY


片仮名(katakana) -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- katakana

漢字(kanji) ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- kanji (originally Chinese characters used in Japanese)

 


Here we have our basic katakana charts. You may have noticed that the hiragana "he"

and katakana "he" are the same. Also, some of the other katakana are similar to their hiragana counterparts, such as "ki", "ya", and "ri". Hopefully, this should make them

easier to remember.


Something I neglected to mention in the hiragana lesson is that the "wo" character is not

really pronounced "wo", rather "o". To be honest, I've never seen the katakana "wo"

used in anything, ever, but to be on the safe side go ahead and memorize it.


My recommendation for practicing and memorizing katakana remains the same as

hiragana, break them down into groups, write them over and over, and test yourself.

Don't stress too much. Many people find katakana easier to use, but don't beat yourself

up if you are struggling. Just go at your own pace. And make sure to follow the stroke

order and pay attention to your hooks and releases!


Katakana is primarily used for "borrowed" or foreign words, but is sometimes used

casually for some Japanese words or Japanese onomatopoeia as well. It is also what

you will be using to write your names! Leave me a comment down below and I can

tell you how to spell your name in Japanese.


Here are some example words using katakana:

トマト(tomato) ---------------------------------- tomato

カメラ(kamera) --------------------------------- camera

ミルク(miruku) ----------------------------------- milk

ネクタイ(nekutai) ----------------------------- necktie

レストラン(resutoran) -------------------- restaurant







Of course, we have rendaku and combonation with katakana as well. There's really no difference here from hiragana besides the characters themselves. For a more in depth explanation of rendaku and combinations, please check out our hiragana lesson here


Vocabulary examples with rendaku and/or combination katakana:

フライドポテト(furaidopoteto) ----------------- french fries

コンビニ(konbini) -------------------------------------------- convenience store

アルバイト・バイト(arubaito/baito) ---- part time job

ドア(doa) ------------------------------------------------------------- door

シャツ(shirt) -------------------------------------------------------- shirt


There is another type of combination that is used mostly with katakana, though you can

see it with hiragana in some instances. It can sound pretty complicated, but basically any vowel sound can be made into a small character and combined with just about any other character. This is particularly true, however, for the "u" ending series. for example "フィ",

"スェ", and so on. each one has it's own particular sound, and makes it easier to say

foreign words/names in Japanese while staying somewhat true to their original

pronunciation.


Before you get too confused, just know I recommend memorizing these on a case by

case basis along with the vocabulary. For now just be aware that these types of

combinations also exist.


Here are some common words using the second type of combination:

フィットネス(fittonesu) --------------------------- fitness

スウェーデン(suweeden) ----------------------- sweden

ウィッグ(wiggu) ----------------------------------------- Wig

レディース(rediisu) ------------------------------------ ladies (usually used in clothes shopping)


In the above examples, you can see both vowel elongation and double consonants as

well.

Vowel Elongation is a bit different with katakana. I'll show you what I mean.



Not the best chart, but you get the picture.


For vowel elongation in katakana, instead of writing the vowel sound again (a, i, u, e, o),

you just draw the character on the left (ー) which kind of looks like the kanji for one 一(ichi).


Here's some example katakana vocabulary with vowel elongation:

ドーナツ(doonatsu) --------------------------- donut

コーヒー(koohii) ---------------------------------- coffee

ニュース(nyuusu) --------------------------------- news

コンピューター(konpyuutaa) --------- computer


And here's some double consonant examples:

ネックレス(nekkuresu) ----------------------- necklace

キッズ(kizzu) ------------------------------------------ kids

チャック(chakku) ---------------------------------- zipper

キッチン(kicchin) ---------------------------------- kitchen


And lastly, I thought I'd provide a table for you guys with some common names in

katakana. However, if you don't see yours here remember to comment and I will let

you know how to spell your name! ( :


If you want a great, indepth resource for learning hiragana and katakana, we highly recommend these books for hiragana and katakana to help you get ahead of the game.


Thanks so much again for reading our lesson on katakana. Come back next time where we are going to learn our first kanji!


As always, がんばってね!



Lauren



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