How to use Japanese Hiragana and Katakana properly.

Japanese Hiragana and Katakana have the completely same sound but the usage is different. It might seem complicated but you don’t need to worry too much. It’s actually easier than you would think. This post’ll explain how to use Hiragana and Katakana properly.

The Basic rule to use Hiragana and Katakana

The basic rule is very simple.

  • Basic Japanese sentences are composed of Hiragana and Kanji
  • Katakana is used only to describe foreign words

That’s all! It’s easy, isn’t it?

For example, you should use Katakana if you want to write your name in Japanese. To use Hiragana isn’t a mistake. However, to write a foreign noun in Hiragana seems childish. Besides, it’s hard to read for native Japanese people.

The Japanese sentences are composed with the combination of 3 types of characters.  That helps us to distinguish which is the start and end of single word since Japanese sentences have no spaces between each word. Thus, a sentence written all in Hiragana or Katakana is very illegible.

The way Katakana is used in Japan

I said that the Japanese sencences are composed of Hiragana and Kanji. But you might say that you encounter a lot of Katakana when you read Japanese books or newspapers. Remember, they’re all from foreign language and not the words Japanese originally have.

Japanese has borrowed a bunch of foreign words and incorporated them in our daily life as if they were Japanese language. Therefore, the new words from outside are increasing day by day especially in the field of engineering and business.

These words are called “Wasei-Eigo” that means Japanese-English words or Japanglish. Some of them has lost their original English meanings and gotten new meanings that can be understood only in Japanese. Japanese people sometimes talk to English speakers not knowing that and it causes trouble.