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LESSON NOTES

Absolute Beginner Questions


Answered by Hiroko #16
Which alphabet to use?

CONTENTS
2 Grammar

# 16
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GRAMMAR

Q: Whe n do I use t he dif f e re nt Japane se alphabe t s?

The Japanese writing system is a combination of two character typesan ideogram kanji,
which was introduced from China, and a phonogram kana, which was derived from kanji.
Most Japanese words are generally written in kanji or kanji plus hiragana to express the
meaning. Actually, we use four patterns to write words in the Japanese language.

Language T ip

Firstly, only kanji. Many nouns and words of Chine se origin are often writ t e n in
kanji only. For example, meaning "book" or meaning "we at he r."

When Japanese people see kanji, they can immediately recognize the meaning of
the word. However, when they see the hiragana versions of words normally
written in kanji, Japanese people have to find the meaning from the context of
the sentence.

Secondly, kanji and hiragana. The hiragana is called okurigana. And it is t he


hiragana t hat f ollows kanji st e ms, and is generally used to inf le ct adje ct ive s
and ve rbs. For example, meaning "big" or meaning "t o e at ."
Here, the ki i and the be ru are written in hiragana.

Thirdly, only hiragana. This is used when a person f orge t s how t o writ e a word
in kanji or whe n words don't have kanji. For example, which
means "be e xcit e d" doesn't have kanji and is written in hiragana only.

Finally, only kat akana. Import e d words f rom ot he r language s are primarily
written in katakana only. For example, meaning "piano" and
meaning "f oot ball."

Almost all Japanese sentences contain a mixt ure of kanji and kana. For example:
(watashi wa kompy t wo tsukaimasu)
meaning "I use the computer."

JAPANESEPOD101.COM ABSOLUTE BEGINNER QUESTIONS ANSWERED BY HIROKO #16 - WHICH ALPHABET TO USE? 2