All about Japanese Katakana

Posted on 28. May, 2016 by in Culture, Grammar

As you might already know, Japanese has 3 main writing styles, Hiragana(ひらがな、平仮名), Katakana(かたかな、片仮名), and Kanji(かんじ、漢字).  Hiragana is the basic writing form of Japanese, and that perhaps you should learn that first. Katakana is probably the second writing style you want to learn, in my opinion, as most of English words are written in Katakana in Japanese although you want to be careful in that pronunciation itself is not exactly the same as in English.

I realize these days, more and more words are described in Katakana, where some of the common English words are being used as they are rather than being translated into Japanese. This is when Katakana comes in. Any foreign words would be written in Katakana.

In order to show you how Katakana looks like (especially if you are new to Japanese), here is how they look like.


Photo from


So, let me show you some of the Katakana words.

シャワー (shower)

プール   (pool)

タオル  (towel)

サッカー  (soccer)

ゴルフ (golf)

レース (race)

ダンス  (dance)

リレー  (relay)

ゴール (goal)

パン (bread)

バス (bus)

プレゼント (present)

テレビ (TV)

サンダル (sandal)

コーヒー (coffee)

ロボット (robot)

マッサージ (massage)

メニュー (menu)

チョコレート (chocolate)

チューリップ (tulip)

クレジットカード (credit card)

アメリカ (America)

インド (India)

スパゲッティ (Spaghetti)

サラダ (salad)

トマト (Tomato)


etc..  These are the basic rules of Katakana

  1. Any foreign words are written in Katakana.
  2. Most of the sports names are written in Katakana.
  3. Most of the country names are written in Katakana.

If you know the above 3 basic rules of Katakana, you can’t go wrong although there are some exceptions.   Now, if you are to write some of the above words in hiragana, it is still ok, but it is best to write in Katakana as they look more appropriate.  Most of the easily pronounced English words are most likely already written in Katakana and being used as foreign words in Japanese.  Hope this helps in your learning of Katakana! I will cover some Kanji lessons next time! Stay tuned.~

Japanese Vocabulary Building Exercise

Posted on 25. May, 2016 by in Culture, Grammar

As I was brainstorming my next topic to post in this blog, I thought about creating this questionnaire about “reading books (ほん, hon). We each have different reasons when we pick up a book to read. I personally feel that I don’t spend enough time reading books these days as I tend to read more off of my iphone or laptop.  Along with learning some of the new Japanese vocabulary below, think about what reading style you might have.  It is interesting to see which answer you might choose for each question. I have translated Japanese text for each of the question and answer below.

Photo from uka0310 on



All about books~ 


When do you want to read a book? (どんなとき ほんを よみたくなりますか? Donna toki hon o yomitaku narimasuka?)

  • When I have something I want to know (しりたいことがあったとき  – shiritai kotoga atta toki)
  • When I am bored (ひまなとき – himana toki)
  • When I feel lonely  (さびしいとき -sabishii toki)
  • When I want to enjoy (たのしみたいとき-tanoshimitai toki)


How many books do you read? (どのくらい ほんを よみますか?-Donokurai hon o yomimasuka?)

  • One book per month (つきに いっさつ – tsuki ni issatsu)
  • One book per week  (しゅうに いっさつ-shuuni issatsu)


How do you read a book? (どんな よみかたを しますか? – Donna yomikata o shimasuka?)

  • Very closely, read between the lines (じっくりと – jikkurito)
  • By flipping through pages quickly (ぱらぱらと-parapara to)
  • By re-reading pages already read  (くりかえして-kurikaeshite)
  • By reading only necessary pages (ひつようなところだけ-hitsuyouna tokorodake)


Where do you read a book? (どこで ほんを よみますか?-Dokode hon o yomimasuka?)

  • At school (がっこうで-gakkou de)
  • In my room (じぶんのへやで- jibun no heyade)
  • In the bus or train (バス や でんしゃ のなかで-basu ya densha no nakade)
  • In the park  (こうえんで – kouen de)
  • At the library (としょかんで-toshokan de)


How does reading a book make you feel? (よむと どんな きもちに なりますか?- Yomuto donna kimochini narimasuka?)

  • It makes me feel accomplished by gaiing new knowledge (あたらしい ちしきを えたかんじ – atarashii chishiki o eta kanji)
  • It makes me happy (うれしい きもち-ureshii kimochi)
  • It doesn’t do anything (なにも かわらない- nanimo kawaranai)


Share your answers with me in the comment section!

10 most commonly used Japanese words for expressing surprise

Posted on 19. May, 2016 by in Culture, Grammar

Photo from oreses on


When it comes to expressing your emotional feelings,there are many ways of expressing them. In today’s post, I would like to cover “expressing surprise” in Japanese. Many of these expressions are very short, so you can master them all very quickly. Read on~!


1. えーーー?! (Pronounced as ehhhhhh~)   – meaning “What?”

This expression is super popular. You don’t need to say anything else except this to express your disbelief. Whenever I say this, I tend to exaggerate the way I say it a bit too much, but be careful not to over exaggerate the expression.


2.  ほんと? 本当? (Pronounced as Honto?~)- meaning “Really?”

This expression is popular as well. It literally means, “really?” in Japanese. You can also add “ni” at the end and say “Hontoni (ほんとに?)?” or you can also add “nano” by saying “Honto nano (ほんとなの)?”


3. まじ? まじで? (Pronounced as Maji?  or Majide?~)-meaning “Really?”

Another way of saying “really?” just like the above, however, this one is a bit more informal. I often say this among my close friends or family members. You probably don’t want to use this expression to someone you might not know too well or someone who is in higher social status or older than you.


4. うそー?  (Pronounced as Uso-?) – meaning “that’s a lie!”

Another popular expression to express your disbelief. The tricky part is to extend your last part of “そ” . The longer you say the last word, the more disbelief you will show to your friend. Again this expression is a very informal one.


5. 信じられない!しんじられない!(Pronounced as shinji rarenai!) – meaning ” I can’t believe this!”

Many of us use this word after saying one of the expressions above 1 through 4, just like in English. You could also start your conversation with this expression and ask questions to your friend.


6. すごいねー!(Pronounced as Sugoine!) – meaning ” That’s awesome!” or “That’s unbelievable!”

You want to be careful when you say this, but this expression can be used towards something positive or negative. When you say this in  cheerful mode, then yes, it will sound like you are happy for your friend, but you could also use this expression when you hear something you cannot believe. It all depends on the tone of your voice.


7. どうしてー?(Pronounced as Doushite?) – meaning ” why?”

We often say this when we can’t understand what we just heard or what just happened. When you hear something you don’t agree with, this is a popular expression to use.


8. なんでー?(Pronounced as Nande?) – meaning ” why?”

Along with the expression above, this is a very similar one. You are in disbelief and that you want to ask, “why?”


9.どうしたのー?(Pronounced as Doshitano-?) – meaning ” what happened?”

If you are in disbelief, and want to ask your friend what happened, this is what you would say in Japanese.


10.うわ~!(Pronounced as Uwa~-?) -meaning “wow!”

This is the expression in Japanese, just like “wow” in English. When you can’t believe what you are seeing, or can’t believe what you are hearing, you often say this followed by some expressions, such as “すごい!Sugoi!”


Hope you learned some new expressions today, and as I said, these are typically very short expressions, so you can easily memorize them and start using!