Learn Japanese

Katakana Chart

Katakana characters are made by modifying Japanese kanjis. As we mentioned in Learn Japanese Lesson 1, Katakana alphabets are mainly used for foreign language words such as names and words that have been borrowed from other languages. The Japanese language does not have as many sounds as the English language.

You should be very careful while forming words using Japanese katakana script and should follow the rules. Sounds of katakana characters are same as that of hiragana characters. Katakana also consists of Consonant clusters same as hiragana. It is very important to follow the stroke order while writing this script. Some of the katakana characters are very similar to hiragana characters and also some of the katakana characters are very similar to the other katakana characters, there is a difference of only one stroke, so be very careful while learning katakana script. A difference between katakana and hiragana is that katakana stroke are mostly straight whereas the strokes of hiragana characters are slightly curved. But there are a few katakana characters which do have curved strokes. Few rules while making katakana words are as follows:-

  • As there is no "l" pronunciation in Japanese language if a word foreign word end in sound "l" then while writing it in katakana you should end it with a "ru" sound. E.g. Table teburu (te-bu-ru)
  • A word ending either with "otion" or in "ation" in English should always be written as "shon" in katakana. E.g. motion moshon (mo-sho-n).
  • In a word if two vowels come together, it is indicated by using a " " . E.g. Soup su-pu

Katakana has many rules but you will start understanding the words only through practice and reading. Initially it will be a little difficult but once you get a habit of it you will no more find it difficult.

All Katakana alphabets are divided into four groups. Shown below are four katakana charts for learning katakana faster.

Katakana Chart-1
Katakana chart

Katakana Chart-2
Katakana alphabet

Katakana Chart-3
Katakana characters

Katakana Chart-4

A few important things to remember about katakana are:

  • Similar to hiragana in katakana also "ji" of the "Da" series is not at all used while "Zu" of this series used very hardly ever. On the other hand "Ji" and "Zu" of the "Za" series is used while making words.
  • The single character "Wo/ O" is not at all used. Not even as a particle. Its existence is only for completing the script.
  • The katakana character "he" is same as the hiragana character "he".
  • The difference between "shi" and "tsu" in katakana is that the big line in shi goes from down to up. On the other hand in "tsu" the big line goes from up to down. Please observe this minute difference.
  • In the same way the minute difference which you have to observe while writing "so" and "n" is that the line goes from up to down in "so". On the other hand the line goes from down to up in "n".
  • Write "ri" very clearly as people get confused between "ri" and "so" when not written properly.
  • There is a difference of only one stroke in the katakana characters "ka", "ki" and "ya" and those of hiragana.
  • Also observe the difference between hiragana "mo" and katakana "mo". In katakana "mo" the vertical line should not go above the upper horizontal line. On the other hand, in hiragana the vertical line does go above the upper horizontal line.

It is very important to follow all the rules and to keep in mind all the above mentioned minute differences between characters while writing katakana. Always write katakana very clearly so that the reader does not get confused between the characters.

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