Hiragana is used to write native words for which there are no kanji, including particles such as から kara "from", and suffixes such as さん ~san "Mr., Mrs., Miss, Ms." Likewise, hiragana is used in words for which the kanji form is obscure, not known to the writer or readers, or too formal for the writing purpose. Verb and adjective inflections, as, for example, be-ma-shi-ta (べました) in Template:Nihongo, are written in hiragana, often following a verb or adjective root (here 食) that is written in kanji. Hiragana is also used to give the pronunciation of kanji in a reading aid called furigana. The article Japanese writing system discusses in detail how the various systems of writing are used.
The complete hiragana syllabary consists of 48 characters:
- 39 distinct consonant-vowel unions
- 5 singular vowels
- 1 singular consonant
- 1 particle that is pronounced as a vowel in modern Japanese
- 2 consonant-vowel unions that are pronounced as vowels and are obsolete in modern Japanese
These basic characters can be modified in various ways. By adding a dakuten marker ( ゛), a voiceless consonant is turned into a voiced consonant: k→g, s→z, t→d, and h→b. Hiragana beginning with an h can also add a handakuten marker ( ゜) changing the h to a p.
A small version of the hiragana for ya, yu or yo (ゃ, ゅ or ょ respectively) may be added to hiragana ending in i. This changes the i vowel sound to a glide (palatalization) to a, u or o. Addition of the small y kana is called yōon. を wo is included (although pronounced the same as vowel お o).
A small tsu っ, called a sokuon, indicates that the following consonant is geminated (doubled). For example, compare さか saka "hill" with さっか sakka "author". It also sometimes appears at the end of utterances, where it denotes a glottal stop. However, it cannot be used to double the na, ni, nu, ne, no syllables' consonants – to double them, the singular n (ん) is added in front of the syllable.
Hiragana usually spells long vowels with the addition of a second vowel kana. The chōonpu (long vowel mark) (ー) used in katakana is rarely used with hiragana, for example in the word らーめん, rāmen, but this usage is considered non-standard. In informal writing, small versions of the five vowel kana are sometimes used to represent trailing off sounds (はぁ haa, ねぇ nee). Standard and voiced iteration marks are written in hiragana as ゝ and ゞ respectively.
Table of hiraganaEdit
The following table shows hiragana together with their Hepburn romanization and IPA pronunciation in the gojūon order. Hiragana with dakuten or handakuten follow the gojūon kana without them, with the yōon kana following. Obsolete and normally unused kana are shown in gray. For all syllables besides ん, the pronunciation indicated is for word-initial syllables, for mid-word pronunciations see below.
|Monographs (gojūon)||Digraphs (yōon)|
(indicates a geminate consonant)
|Diacritics (gojūon with (han)dakuten)||Digraphs with diacritics (yōon with (han)dakuten)|