Katakana Diphthongs

In the last lesson, you learned the extended katakana characters. The biggest lesson so far in this course. Now we’re moving into combinations adding a whole bunch of new sounds to the language.

What Does Diphthong Mean?

I discussed this in the hiragana course, but real quick. The combination of characters is called a diphthong. They are created by combining the beginning consonant from each “i” vowel sound kana キ (ki) ギ (gi) シ (shi) ジ (ji) チ (chi) 二 (ni) ヒ (hi) ビ (bi) ピ (pi) 三 (mi) リ (ri) — with a “y”  sound ヤユヨ.

The Katakana Diphthongs

Like hiragana, there are the standard diphthongs. But katakana adds more — to make sounds found in foreign languages. But let’s save those for the next lesson.

Ki:キャ, キュ, キョ → kya, kyu, kyo

Gi:ギャ, ギュ, ギョ → gya, gy, gyo

Shi:シャ, シュ, ショ → sha, shu, sho

Ji:ジャ, ジュ, ジョ → ja, ju, jo

Chi:チャ, チュ, チョ → cha, chu, cho

Ni:ニャ, ニュ, ニョ → nya, nyu, nyo

Hi:ヒャ, ヒュ, ヒョ → hya, hyu, hyo

Bi:ビャ, ビュ, ビョ → bya, byu, byo

Pi:ピャ, ピュ, ピョ → pya, pyu, pyo

Mi:ミャ, ミュ, ミョ → mya, myu, myo

Ri: リャ, リュ, リョ → rya, ryu, ryo

Also, just like in hiragana, pay special attention to the SHI, JI, and CHI rows. Notice that the “y” sounds are not pronounced. For example シャ looks like shi-ya, but it is just sha — without the “y” sound.

Study Point

The main takeaway from this lesson is you learn to recognize the combination. That the ヤ, ユ, and ヨ are written smaller, because when exploring Japan, unfortunately, those can be very subtle.

Something to remember too is these combinations are only from the “i” vowel sound characters so if you see a ヤ, ユ, or ヨ after an “i” sound character, perhaps it is a combination.

Recall Practice

Time to practice! Just like in all lessons, do this as many times as it takes for you to feel like you can confidently select the correct answer without guessing.

This recall covers all the modified characters all together.

Good job! Continue practicing until you can confidently identify each character with ease. Click the buttons below to restart the practice (challenge yourself with inverted and challenge mode).

Once this practice feels easy to you it’s time to take a break and then move on to the next lesson.