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What is the difference in Hiragana and Katakana?

Where would i use Hiragana/ Katakana?
why learn both if one is more important?
posted by Shijima

Comments 4

  • mog86uk
    You need to learn both, for the same reason you need to learn both upper case alphabet and lower case alphabet in English.

    you can write in all lower case or WRITE IN ALL UPPER CASE LETTERS, but what you write would be harder to read and may be misunderstood. If you could only read lower case letters, you wouldn't be able to read when people use capitals; every sentence and proper name contain capital letters. So, if you couldn't read both, there would be a lot of words you wouldn't be able to read.

    This is the same with Hiragana and Katakana. You could use the wrong ones and people might still realise what you mean, but if you can't read both then you won't be able to read what other people have written; both are used a lot. I guess, like lower case alphabet, you could say that Hiragana is more important; however, you still need to learn and use both, as they are each used for different things.

    Some of the things for which Hiragana is used:
    * most Japanese words originating from Japan or China (mostly written in Kanji instead though)
    * every single verb contains Hiragana (and usually, every sentence should have a verb)!
    * particles (which are used after nearly every word/phrase - so they're used VERY often)

    Some of the things for which Katakana is used:
    * Japanese words not originating from Japan or China
    * spelling out foreign words
    * some names, especially foreign names
    * emphasis (like using upper case in English)
    * sounds - like animal noises and sound effects
    * emotion/feeling sounds (onomatopoeia - which are used a LOT!)
    * shop menu boards and signs often use Katakana

    So you can't just learn one or the other, even though Hiragana might be thought of as the default or the 'more important' of the two.
  • SlushBrain
    Hirigana is considered the feminine, curvy writing of the japanese system while katakana is more masculine.

    You will need both as the majority of vocabulary to read, write, or communicate in Japanese as the language consist of these two and Kanji. Don't bother learning Romanji, it's what we already known as japanese translated english.
  • Shijima
    i find romanji very helpful to writing as it helps me relate words with a face
  • mog86uk
    I know what you mean about Roman lettering giving the words a recognisable face, and it's not really too bad using it for a while whilst you are learning the basics of Japanese language.

    However, eventually you will start to feel the same towards kana (hiragana and katakana) once you've been using it long enough. Kanji is even better though for giving words a face, as that is essentially what Kanji does for words.

    You will be better off if you try to use kana instead of romaji as much as possible, as you will get used to it quicker that way. Learning to type kana on a computer effectively is helpful for getting used to using kana instead of roumaji.

    One last thing about ローマ字【ローマジ】 - it is not spelt 'romanji'. ローマ 'rōma'/'rooma'/'rouma' is Japanese for 'Roman'. (字 'ji' = character, letter.)

    'romaji' is perhaps how this word is spelt in the English language, to describe the Japanese system of Roman lettering use. This is like how 東京【とうきょう】is spelt 'Tokyo' in English, and in ローマ字 it is written 'tōkyō'/'tookyoo'/'toukyou', depending on which version of ローマ字 you are using...

    'romanji' would be using the English word 'Roman' and the Japanese word 字【じ】'ji', and sticking the English and Japanese words together...