- So you've learned hiragana1. Good for you. Ready to do the same thing all over again so you can learn katakana?
- This guide assumes you went through our hiragana guide already, so it won't explain how and why this method works. It uses the same style techniques, worksheets, and exercises. It also skips the pronunciation explanations (except when a katakana character is different from hiragana). If you haven't yet, please review the learn hiragana guide before you begin learning the katakana. If you have, then you know the drill. Let's get started with the first ten katakana.
- In terms of what you're learning, it will be very simple. Katakana is, for the most part, the same sounds you learned with hiragana. But, the characters representing those sounds are different. It would be like if in English you replaced the letter "A" with the symbol "ア" without changing how it's used and pronounced.
- When Do I Use Katakana? Katakana is used for a variety of things. The most common use is to transcribe foreign words (non-Japanese words). There is some issue with this though. The sounds available in the Japanese languages are not as flexible as other languages. So, words that are transcribed to katakana often don't sound like the original. As you get used to it, though, you'll begin to not only understand non-Japanese words that have been made "Japanese", but also know how to say foreign words using Japanese sounds (and write them in katakana).
- Besides foreign words, katakana is also used for:
- Scientific words
- Animal names
- Many foods (especially animal and plant foods) are written in katakana too.
- Company names will sometimes write their names in katakana.
- When someone wants to emphasize text, much like writing in italics in English.
- Often used for onomatopoeia.
- "Robot-speech" (as in, when you write out text for robots talking)
- For various stylistic purposes
- There are other smaller use cases as well, but those will be the main ones (aside from foreign words, which will be 80%+ of the use case)
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2023
- Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)