Japanese for beginners #2

Diacritical Marks, Contracted Sounds, Long Vowels, Double Consonants and more Vocabulary

October 18, 2015 in Japanese for beginners

In the last chapter we introduced the first vocabulary and the japanese writing-systems. In this chapter we continue learning japanese with more syllables, some rules regarding the hiragana writing system and more vocabulary.


Diacritical Marks

With the help of diacritical marks we can create more syllables. If diagonal quotes are added to the consonants k, s, t and h they will turn to g, z, d and b. By adding a small circle to the consonant h, it will change to p.

Table of Hiragana Characters with Diacritical Marks
g (k)
z (s)(ji)(zu)
d (t)(ji)*(zu)*
b (h)
p (h)
* Since ぢ and づ are pronounced the same as じ and ず they are seldom used in Japanese.

Contracted Sounds

When the characters や(ya), ゆ(yu) and よ(yo) follow after other Japanese characters and are written in a smaller form then these characters are pronounced as one syllable. (e.g. きゃ is pronounced kya and not kiya).

Table of Hiragana Characters with Contracted Sounds
きゃ kyaきゅ kyuきょ kyoぎゃ gyaぎゅ gyuぎょ gyo
しゃ shaしゅ shuしょ shoじゃ jaじゅ juじょ jo
ちゃ chaちゅ chuちょ cho
にゃ nyaにゅ nyuにょ nyo
ひゃ hyaひゅ hyuひょ hyoびゃ byaびゅ byuびょ byo
みゃ myaみゅ myuみょ myoぴゃ pyaぴゅ pyuぴょ pyo
りゃ ryaりゅ ryuりょ ryo

Double Consonants

A small つ before a hiragana is used to transcribe double consonants. Examples:

  • かった - katta
  • さっか - sakka
  • はっぱ - happa
  • やっし - zasshi

The n is an exception. It is transcribed by a regular ん before a hiragana. Example:

  • さんえん - sannen
  • あんあい - annai

Double consonants are to emphasize more strongly in pronounciation.

Long Vowels

If the same vowel follows right after another, then the pronounciation must be twice as long. Be sure to hold the pronounciation long enough because in some cases if you don’t, it can become another word!

aaおばあさん (Obaasan / Oma) vs. おばさん (Obasan / Tante)
iiおじいさん (Ojiisan / Opa) vs. おじさん (Ojisan / Onkel)
uuすうじ (Suuji / Nummer)
eeThe long ee is usually transcribed by a following い(i). In some exceptions it can be an え(e).
えいが (Eega / Film)
おねえさん (Oneesan/Große Schwester)
ooThe long oo is usually transcribed by a following う(u). But In some cases, due to historical reasons, it can also be an お(o).
ほうりつ (Hooritsu / Gesetz)

Vocabulary #2

Houseいえ (Ie)
Umbrellaかさ (Kasa)
Liquorおさけ (Osake)
Shoesくつ (Kutsu)
Fishさかな (Sakana)
Meatにく (Niku)
Ahmあの (Ano)
Walletさいふ (Saifu)
Nameなまえ (Namae)
Nowいま (Ima)
Vegetablesやさい (Yasai)
Historyれきし (Rekishi)
Toiletおてあらい (O tearai)
Iわたし (Watashi)
Bookほん (Hon)
Japanにほん (Nihon)
Koreaかんこく (Kankoku)
Major Subjectせんもん (Senmon)
Pork Cutletとんかつ (Tonkatsu)
Japanese (language)にほんご (Nihongo)
Japanese (person)にほんじん (Nihonjin)
AMごぜん (Gozen)
PMごご (Gogo)
Telephoneでんわ (Denwa)
Friendともだち (Tomodachi)
Newspaperしんふん (Shinbun)
Pencilえんぴつ (Enpitsu)
Bagかばん (Kaban)
Employeeかいしゃいん (Kaisha in)
Housewifeしゅふ (Shufu)
Teaおちゃ (Ocha)
Bicycleじてんしゃ (Jitensha)
Libraryとしょかん (Toshokan)
Dictionaryじしょ (Jisho)
Studentがくせい (Gakusei)
College Studentだいがくせい (Daigakusei)
Hich School Studentこうこうせい (Kookoosei)
Teacherせんせい (Sensei)
Exchange Studentりゅうがくせい (Ryuugakusei)
Englishえいご (Eego)
Economyけいざい (Keizai)
Numberばんごう (Bangoo)
Clockとけい (Tokee)
Hatぼうし (Booshi)
Bankぎんこう (Ginkoo)
Post Officeゆうびんきよく (Yuubinkyoku)
Chinaちゅうごく (Chuugoku)
Magazineざっし (Zasshi)
Movieえいが (Eega)
Lawほうりつ (Hooritsu)
Schoolがっこう (Gakkoo)
Grandpaおじいさん (Ojiisan)
Grandmaおばあさん (Obaasan)
Fatherおとおさん (Otoosan)
Motherおかあさん (Okaasan)
Uncleおじさん (Ojisan)
Auntおばさん (Obasan)
Big Sisterおねえさん (Oneesan)
Big Brotherおにいさん (Oniisan)
Brotherおとうと (Otooto)
Sisterいもうと (Imooto)
EnglishJapanese [Kana (Romaji)]


Until the next chapter you should internalize the new vocabulary as well as the new syllables and additional hiragana-rules. To do so, it might be helpful to write down the characters (in hiragana) and pronounce them loudly. Happy Learning! :-)

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