The Japanese Alphabet: Katakana

How to Pronounce Katakana

The essential key to learn japanese is to learn the alphabet and how to pronounce it!

There are 3 forms of the japanese alphabet, but today we'll learn one called "Katakana". In more modern japanese, katakana is used for translating foreign words. Katakana is the easiest form of the japanese alphabet to learn and in most cases it's the first alphabet foreigners and japanese children learn. The second form is more challenging but similar to katakana and that's called Hiragana. The hardest form to learn is Kanji. Typically 90% who learn/speak japanese learns this form last after they master the first 2 forms. Ok now let's get started!!

First before learning anything, you have to know the vowels. Those are A, I, U, E, O. A is pronounced as "ah" as in father. I is pronounced as "ee" as is me. U is pronounced as "ew" as in blue. E is pronounced as "eh" as in tray. O is pronounced as "oh" as is blow. Now that we've got that covered, lets learn katakana!

Katakana is made up of 41 different sounds. Don't panic because once you get the hang of it, it's really simple. Remember the japanese vowels? The sounds are in the category of their own vowels. Don't get it yet? I'll tell you. The vowel "A" has 10 sounds (katakana) with it. The vowel "I" has 7 sounds with it. The vowel "U" has 8 different sounds with it. The vowel "E" has 7 sounds with it. Lastly, the vowel "O" has 9 sounds with it. When I say sounds, I mean consonants. The most common consonants for katakana are k, s, t, n, h, m, and r. They are used in all forms of the vowels. Least common consonants are y and w. "n" is only used in the "A" form of the vowel. It's all in that order so lets get started!!

The "A" Katakana w/a consonant

Remember the "A" vowel has 10 consonant vowels that go with it. Those are "ka", "sa", "ta", "na", "ha", "ma", "ya", "ra", and "wa". "n" is a strange consonant. It's pronounced "nn" as like the beginning of mmhm. Or like when you say "mmm".

The "I" Katakana w/a consonant

The "I" vowel has 7 consonant vowels that go with it. Those are "ki", "shi", "chi", "ni", "hi", "mi", and "ri". Even though "shi" and "chi" are not the letters "c" and "s", they are still in the category because they are very similar to the sounds.

The "U" Katakana w/a consonant

The "U" vowel has 8 consonant vowels that go with it. Those are "ku", "su", "tsu", "nu", "fu", "mu", "yu", and "ru". "tsu" is the consonant form of "t". To pronounce "tsu" is very easy. Just say the word "sit" but take out the "i" in sit and add "u" at the end of it. Practice it. It sounds very similar to the word "sue".

The "E" Katakana w/a consonant

The "E" vowel has 7 consonant vowels that go with it. Those are "ke", "se", "the", "ne", "he", "me", and "re". REMEMBER, the "E" vowel is not pronounced as ee. It's pronounced as "eh".

The "O" Katakana w/a consonant

The "O" vowel has 9 consonant vowels that go with it. Those are "ko", "so", "to", "no", "ho", "mo", "ro", "yo", and "o". The "o" is just like saying "wo" only the "w" is silent. Also "o" is in the "w" form for the consonant.


That's it with the Katakana! Practice up on the Katakana, test yourself on it then when you think you're ready move on to Hiragana. Goodbye and good luck!

~Niima (aka Tsubame ^_^)

Katakana Scripture

Scripture of Katakana~
Scripture of Katakana~

Comments 1 comment

chrismarva profile image

chrismarva 7 years ago

I have yet to master English eventhough it is my mother tongue, but I like to learn new things.

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