Reference page

Chart for 68 sounds

5 vowels

Hiragana

Rōmaji

aiueo
Pronouncing these 5 vowels correctly is very important. They are all short sounds. In general, English speakers tend to pronounce the vowel "o" like « ow ». Try to pronounce the sound "o" short !

K

Hiragana

Rōmaji

kakikukeko

S

Hiragana

T

Hiragana

N

Hiragana

Rōmaji

naninuneno

H

Hiragana

Rōmaji

hahifuheho

M

Hiragana

Rōmaji

mamimumemo

Y

Hiragana

Rōmaji

yayuyo

R

Hiragana

Rōmaji

rarirurero
You should pronounce「R」almost like「L」.

W

Hiragana

Rōmaji

waon

G

Hiragana

Rōmaji

gagigugego

Z

Hiragana

D

Hiragana

B

Hiragana

Rōmaji

babibubebo

P

Hiragana

Rōmaji

papipupepo
*1 "zi" doesn't exist. It becomes "ji".
*2 "di" doesn't exist. It becomes "ji".
*3 "du" doesn't exist. It becomes "zu".

Chart for additional 33 sounds

K

Hiragana

きゃ

きゅ

きょ

Rōmaji

kyakyukyo

S

Hiragana

しゃ

しゅ

しょ

Rōmaji

shashusho

C

Hiragana

ちゃ

ちゅ

ちょ

Rōmaji

chachucho

N

Hiragana

にゃ

にゅ

にょ

Rōmaji

nyanyunyo

H

Hiragana

ひゃ

ひゅ

ひょ

Rōmaji

hyahyuhyo

M

Hiragana

みゃ

みゅ

みょ

Rōmaji

myamyumyo

R

Hiragana

りゃ

りゅ

りょ

Rōmaji

ryaryuryo

G

Hiragana

ぎゃ

ぎゅ

ぎょ

Rōmaji

gyagyugyo

J

Hiragana

じゃ

じゅ

じょ

Rōmaji

jajujo

B

Hiragana

びゃ

びゅ

びょ

Rōmaji

byabyubyo

P

Hiragana

ぴゃ

ぴゅ

ぴょ

Rōmaji

pyapyupyo

Double vowels

There are a lot of words which have double vowels such as "aa" or "oo". To transcribe double vowels, a straight line (-) on top of a vowel is used. e.g: ā , ō

okāsan

おかさん

mother

pronounced as "okaasan"

haiyū

はいゆ

actor

pronounced as "haiyuu"

It is very important to make a distinction between double vowels and a single vowel ! Double or single vowel makes a completely different word !

biru

ビル

building

bīru

beer

Double consonants

There are many words that have double consonants.

yukkuri

くり

slowly

zasshi

magazine

Mute vowels

The short vowels "i" and "u" are sometimes silent in the following cases;
1 - When they are placed between consonants k, s, t, h or p.
2 - When they are preceded by consonants k, s, t, h or p at the end of the word.

suteki desu

すてき です
lovely is

It is lovely

sukī o shimashita

スキー を しました
ski did

I skied.

Words with foreign origins

In Japanese, there are a lot of words that come from foreign languages, especially from English. Since single consonant sounds do not exist in Japanese (except some "mute vowels" cases), a vowel is attached to every consonant. This certainly sounds strange for English speakers !

kurisumasu

クリスマス

Christmas

makudonarudo

マクドナルド

Macdonald

Accentuation (Stress)

Japanese words have "pitch accent". "Pitch accent" means that certain sounds in a word are higher than other sounds. Depending on where you place the pitch accent, certain words could mean completely different ! There are three primary types of Japanese pitch accent.

When you stress on these sounds, the length of the vowels DO NOT change !

1 - The first sound is higher than the rest.

ふじさん

Mt. Fuji

はし

chopsticks

2 - The first sound is lower than the rest.

わたし

I, me

はし

bridge

くるま

car

3 - The middle part of the word is higher than the rest.

あなた

you

なつやすみ

summer holiday

ひらがな

hiragana

カタカナ

katakana

Probably the second type is the most difficult for English speakers. Try to keep the middle and the rest of the sounds "high" !

Now you can listen and pronounce Japanese sounds !
Let's move on to Basic grammar and start making short sentences !

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