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ang.diwata

Difference between Hiragana and Katakana

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I have memorized all hiragana characters, together with the dakuten, handakuten and yoon characters. The same goes with katakana. For all these, I learned that katakana is easier to write than hiragana, although more confusing. However, I'm still fairly confused on when to use hiragana and when to use katakana. Both writing systems consists of the same syllables. Can't I just write in pure hiragana or pure katakana?

[i've just started with the kanjis so, I don't have questions yet for that one]

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It's actually very simple. (somewhat...)

You CAN write everything in hiragana, but that is not very commonly done. It's only done in children books for very small children. (Remember, the kids in japan start learning kanji at a very early age, so you're looking at very small childrens books here, as the somewhat older children books will have some basic kanji in them).

In normal writing, hiragana is mostly used for grammatical particles, and certain words. I'm not certain why they choose to write some words in hiragana, but I just know that they do that.

Katakana is used "only" for foreign words that the japanese has imported into their syllabry (instead of making new words, they often just change the sounds a bit so that they can say it properly. Be warned though, that they do not always mean the same thing as the thing it sounds like) aswell as names. (not personal names, but companies, plants, animals... And so on).

Katakana is also used for empathis/as a stylistic choice sometimes, on scientific terms, and sometimes it's usage can seem a bit random to us who are new to the language... So if you're trying ot learn how to write japanese (I'm not, I'm only learning japanese passively. as in, I want to understand written and spoken japanese, but i don't care to write or speak it myself) stay away from using katakana in these less common situations, unless you are absolutely certain that katakana is being used in that situation.

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When in doubt, use hiragana.

Like Lasonax has said, katakana is only used for foreign words/names. They are also used for sounds... but that depends on what sound because sometimes it can also be written in hiragana.

You can't just write purely in one script for Japanese. You're going to have to do a mix most of the time and hiragana will likely be your most common script.

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Thanks! This cleared things up a bit! I would really like to learn when one or the other is used, since I'm planning to go to Japan later this year, and I'm thinking it would be nice if I'd be able to speak their language while I'm visiting the country. :)

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Ooh, where do you plan to go?

I'll be moving to Japan in August ^__^

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Wow, that's so cool! I'm planning to visit the shrines there, since I'm curious with them. And ride the shinkansen. Then probably go to Shibuya, too, to visit Hachiko's statue. I also want to go cherry blosom viewing. That's probably one of the main reasons why I want to go to Japan. Haha. I don't have an itinerary yet, though. Can you suggest places that I could visit?

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Hmm, it depends on what you like. If you like anime/modern Japanese culture, then you definitely want to stick to Tokyo and places like Harajuku, Akiba, etc.

If you like more of the traditional stuff, Kyoto/Osaka is probably the best place to go. They have lots of shrines, temples, castles, etc.

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Hmm, it depends on what you like. If you like anime/modern Japanese culture, then you definitely want to stick to Tokyo and places like Harajuku, Akiba, etc.

If you like more of the traditional stuff, Kyoto/Osaka is probably the best place to go. They have lots of shrines, temples, castles, etc.

Now, I'm really torn. I love modern Japanese culture as much as the traditional. Maybe I'd go for a mix of both. Thanks for the suggestion. :)

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Hiragana is used for words that don't have a kanji to represent it and has a smooth or roundish feel while katakana is used mostly for writing foreign words and seems a little bit more pointy in my opinion. Hiragana also adds the small tsu character which acts as a double consonant while katakana utilizes a dash for a vowel extender. It can be a little confusing at first, but once you memorize the mnemonics for both alphabets you're all set.

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