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Katakana Charts

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Katakana Chart (PDF)

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Hiragana and Katakana Cheatsheet

This one will be especially useful when you have learned Hiragana and Katakana but sometimes forget a character or two.
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Katakana

Katakana is one of the two Japanese syllabaries (or syllabic alphabets) that are used in Japanese, along with Kanji and a bit of Roman script. Each Katakana character has a Hiragana counterpart and the number of characters used is about equal (some exceptions occur, e.g., Katakana has some special characters for transcribing foreign names and words).

Usage of Katakana in Japanese

You will see Katakana in Japanese most commonly used for writing

  • foreign words (except words from Chinese, although new words from Chinese are
  • Katakana too): ラーメン (ramen)
  • foreign names and usually names of Japanese companies: スズキ (Suzuki)、トヨタ (Toyota).
  • often interjections and onomatopoeia
  • sometimes it's used just so a word stands out, instead of Hiragana or Kanji in Kanji dictionaries often for the 音読み(おんよみ)– the sino-japanese reading (usually the shorter one that comes from Chinese).

How did Katakana evolve?

Similarly to Hiragana, Katakana too evolved from Chinese characters (written in a different style of script) but unlike Hiragana, Katakana originates from parts of more complicated characters.

Katakana spelling rules

  • A long line (ー) is often used to write down long vowels, especially in foreign words (but for instance in dictionary when they use Katakana to mark the onyomi-reading (from Chinese), they would spell just like in Hiragana, only with Katakana characters):
    コンピューター (computer)
  • There are some special characters that might be used to transcribe foreign names more accurately: ヴ as in ヴェ(ve).
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