Hiragana is used to write words of Japanese origin. It is also used to write verb conjugations (although verb stems are usually kanjis), polite forms, and particles. In some way, hiragana is the glue that connects and molds the ideas expressed by the kanjis.

The kanas have a set of ‘core’ characters that provides a basic set of sounds. To allow more sounds, the characters are modified as follows:

  • some characters are marked with double quotes (”) or with a circle (°).
  • characters are followed by small ‘ya’ (や), ‘yu’ (ゆ), and ‘yo'(よ), e.g., the character ‘ka'(か) combined with a small version of ‘ya’ sounds ‘kya'(きゃ).

Core characters

a i u e o
k ka ki ku ke ko きゃ kya きゅ kyu きょ kyo
s sa shi su se so しゃ sha しゅ shu しょ sho
t ta chi tsu te to ちゃ cha ちゅ chu ちょ cho
n na ni nu ne no にゃ nya にゅ nyu にょ nyo
h ha hi fu he ho ひゃ hya ひゅ hyu ひょ hyo
m ma mi mu me mo みゃ mya みゅ myu みょ myo
y ya yu yo
r ra ri ru re ro りゃ rya りゅ ryu りょ ryo
w wa wo

ten-ten (“) and maru (°)

g ga gi gu ge go ぎゃ gya ぎゅ gyu ぎょ gyo
z za ji zu ze zo じゃ ja じゅ ju じょ jo
d da ji つ” zu de do
b ba bi bu be bo びゃ bya びゅ byu びょ byo
p pa pi pu pe po ぴゃ pya ぴゅ pyu ぴょ pyo

practice words

いぬ inu dog ねこ neko cat かさ kasa umbrella くるま kuruma car
おうむ oumu parrot なまえ namae name おおさか oosaka Osaka せんせい sensei teacher
ちゃ cha tea きゅう kyuu nine きょう kyou today ひしょ hisho secretary
かぎ kagi key ばら bara rose かぞく kazoku family めがね megane glasses
さんぽ sanpo stroll かんぱい kampai cheers! えんぴつ enpitsu pencil かんぺき kanpeki perfect
きって kitte stamp きっぷ kippu ticket がっこう gakkou school ざっし zasshi magazine