3.1. Double hiragana for consonants + y + vowels


A double kana consists of two kana, but it stands for a single mora, not two morae. All of the double hiragana shown here are combinations of a hiragana for a consonant + "i" and a smaller kind of hiragana of either (ya), (yu), or (yo) ("ya", "yu", "yo"). The rule is simple: to write the mora "CyV" ("C" is a consonant and "V" is a vowel), use the kana for "Ci" and the small kana for "yV". For example, the mora "kya" is written with the kana for "ki" and the small kana for "ya".

k + y + vowels:
HiraganaRomanizationPronunciationDescription
(ki)(small ya)kya[kja] English "k" + Japanese "y" + Japanese "a".
(ki)(small yu)kyu[kju] English "k" + Japanese "y" + Japanese "u".
(ki)(small yo)kyo[kjo] English "k" + Japanese "y" + Japanese "o".


g + y + vowels:
HiraganaRomanizationPronunciationDescription
(gi)(small ya)gya[gja] English "g" + Japanese "y" + Japanese "a".
(gi)(small yu)gyu[gju] English "g" + Japanese "y" + Japanese "u".
(gi)(small yo)gyo[gjo] English "g" + Japanese "y" + Japanese "o".


s + y + vowels:
HiraganaRomanizationPronunciationDescription
(si)(small ya)sya (sha)[sha] Similar to English "sh" + Japanese "a".
See (si) for Japanese "sh".
(si)(small yu)syu (shu)[shu] Similar to English "sh" + Japanese "u".
(si)(small yo)syo (sho)[sho] Similar to English "sh" + Japanese "o".


z + y + vowels:
HiraganaRomanizationPronunciationDescription
(zi)(small ya)zya (ja)[d_zha] Similar to English "j" + Japanese "a".
See (zi) for Japanese "j".
(zi)(small yu)zyu (ju)[d_zhu] Similar to English "j" + Japanese "u".
(zi)(small yo)zyo (jo)[d_zho] Similar to English "j" + Japanese "o".


t + y + vowels:
HiraganaRomanizationPronunciationDescription
(ti)(small ya)tya (cha)[cha] Similar to English "ch" + Japanese "a".
See (ti) for Japanese "ch".
(ti)(small yu)tyu (chu)[chu] Similar to English "ch" + Japanese "u".
(ti)(small yo)tyo (cho)[cho] Similar to English "ch" + Japanese "o".


d + y + vowels:
HiraganaRomanizationPronunciationDescription
(di)(small ya)zya (ja)[d_zha] Similar to English "j" + Japanese "a".
(di)(small yu)zyu (ju)[d_zhu] Similar to English "j" + Japanese "u".
(di)(small yo)zyo (jo)[d_zho] Similar to English "j" + Japanese "o".


n + y + vowels:
HiraganaRomanizationPronunciationDescription
(ni)(small ya)nya[nja] Similar to Spanish "ñ" + Japanese "a".
See (ni) for actual pronunciation.
You can pronounce it as English "ny" + Japanese "a".
(ni)(small yu)nyu[nju] Similar to Spanish "ñ" + Japanese "u".
You can pronounce it as English "ny" + Japanese "u".
(ni)(small yo)nyo[njo] Similar to Spanish "ñ" + Japanese "o".
You can pronounce it as English "ny" + Japanese "o".


h + y + vowels:
HiraganaRomanizationPronunciationDescription
(hi)(small ya)hya[ça] German "ch" + Japanese "a".
See (hi) for German "ch".
You can pronounce it as English "hy" + Japanese "a".
(hi)(small yu)hyuu] German "ch" + Japanese "u".
You can pronounce it as English "hy" + Japanese "u".
(hi)(small yo)hyo[ço] German "ch" + Japanese "o".
You can pronounce it as English "hy" + Japanese "o".


b + y + vowels:
HiraganaRomanizationPronunciationDescription
(bi)(small ya)bya[bja] English "b" + Japanese "y" + Japanese "a".
(bi)(small yu)byu[bju] English "b" + Japanese "y" + Japanese "u".
(bi)(small yo)byo[bjo] English "b" + Japanese "y" + Japanese "o".


p + y + vowels:
HiraganaRomanizationPronunciationDescription
(pi)(small ya)pya[pja] English "p" + Japanese "y" + Japanese "a".
(pi)(small yu)pyu[pju] English "p" + Japanese "y" + Japanese "u".
(pi)(small yo)pyo[pjo] English "p" + Japanese "y" + Japanese "o".


m + y + vowels:
HiraganaRomanizationPronunciationDescription
(mi)(small ya)mya[mja] English "m" + Japanese "y" + Japanese "a".
(mi)(small yu)myu[mju] English "m" + Japanese "y" + Japanese "u".
(mi)(small yo)myo[mjo] English "m" + Japanese "y" + Japanese "o".


r + y + vowels:
HiraganaRomanizationPronunciationDescription
(ri)(small ya)rya[flapja] Japanese "r" + Japanese "y" + Japanese "a".
(ri)(small yu)ryu[flapju] Japanese "r" + Japanese "y" + Japanese "u".
(ri)(small yo)ryo[flapjo] Japanese "r" + Japanese "y" + Japanese "o".


Hiragana examples:

Hiragana:(o)(ti)(small ya)
Pitch:LH
Romanization:otya
Meaning:green tea (noun)

For your interest: This word actually means all kinds of tea, and tea often means green tea in Japan. If you want to distinguish various teas, use the word (ri)(small yo)(ku)(ti)(small ya) "ryokutya" for green tea and the word (ko)(u)(ti)(small ya) "kôtya" for European tea. Japanese tea is not always green; (ho)(u)(zi)(ti)(small ya) "hôzitya" (roasted tea) and (ge)(n)(ma)(i)(ti)(small ya) "genmaitya" (roasted tea with popped rice) are brown. Other than them, (u)(long)(ro)(n)(ti)(small ya)rontya" (oolong tea) and (mu)(gi)(ti)(small ya) "mugitya" (barley tea) are popular. Japanese people never use sugar or milk for any tea but European tea.


Hiragana:(si)(small yo)(u)(yu)
Pitch:LHH
Romanization:syôyu
Meaning:soy sauce (noun)


Hiragana:(gi)(small yu)(u)(ni)(small yu)(u)
Pitch:LHHH
Romanization:gyûnyû
Meaning:cow's milk (noun)


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