Lesson 02: Katakana



Now that you have learned hiragana, it is time to move on to the other kana alphabet: katakana! You’ll need a sheet of paper for practice! And remember, just keep drawing out the symbols until you have them memorized. You’ll be reading katakana in no time.


In This Lesson

–          What is Katakana?

–          Transliteration

–          How to read and write Katakana

–          Homework assignment and answer key


What is Katakana?


Katakana is one of the two Japanese alphabets. It is syllabic, just like hiragana, so the symbols work the same way. The difference between hiragana and katakana is that katakana is used only for “loan words.” Loan words are foreign words that have been adopted into the Japanese language (such as , Romanized as コーラko-ra, from English and Romanized as アルバイトarubaito, from German). There are thousands of loan words in Japanese. A lot of them come from English, but many of them are from different languages. Katakana lets you know that the word is not a native Japanese word.




There are katakana symbols for every hiragana symbol, so you transliterate them the same way. Below there is a table with the symbols in it. Use this just like you did the hiragana charts! The one different between transliterating hiragana and katakana is that katakana sometimes has a –in a word. This means that the vowel that this line follows is a long vowel. When you transliterate it into romaji, you can either leave the line or write two vowels out. (Ex: コーラRomanized as ko-ro or koora). In pronunciation, this line means that you draw out the vowel sound a bit.



How to Write Katakana


Use the tables below like you did for hiragana! Study each set and practice writing them until you are familiar with them. Move through each set this way.


Set 1 Set 2 Set 3 Set 4 Set 5


Set 6 Set 7 Set 8 Set 9 Set 10

Once you have mastered the above basic katakana, move on to this chart. Like hiragana, katakana can be changed slightly by adding a small circle or two lines to the top right corner. Here are the modified katakana.



Finally, check out the modified syllables below. These work like the hiragana symbols to make different sounds. Note how the second symbol is always written smaller than the first syllable. This is how you know to make the modified sound when reading katakana.

Also note that, just like in hiragana, the small ツ symbol may appear smaller next to another symbol. This means that you double that consonant, like in hiragana!




Like you practiced hiragana, you will need to practice katakana. You will definitely use hiragana more often, but that is no excuse to forget katakana! Practice writing the symbols over and over again until you have them memorized. The homework assignments below will aide you in your study!




Section 1: Print out the worksheets from this website and practice writing the katakana symbols. Click Here.


Section 2: Transliterate the following katakana into romaji. Then see if you can write the English translation of the word. Answers are in the Answer Key at the end of this lesson. Don’t peek!

  1. シャワー
  2.  バス
  3. ケーキ
  4. カメラ
  5. コーヒー
  6. コーラ
  7. アルバイト
  8. デパート
  9. スーパー
  10. コンピューター
  11. ドア
  12. クラス
  13. テスト
  14. スポーツ
  15. サッカー
  16. テレビ
  17. コンビニ
  18. テニス
  19. ゲーム
  20. アメリカ


Section 3: Write the katakana for the word the picture is demonstrating.

















Answer Key

Section 2:

  1. Shyawa-           shower
  2. Basu                bus
  3. Ke-ki               cake
  4. Kamera           camera
  5. Ko-hi-             coffee
  6. Ko-ra              cola/soda
  7. Arubaito         part-time job
  8. Depa-to          department store
  9. Su-pa-            supermarket
  10. Konpyuta-       computer
  11. Doa                door
  12. Kurasu            class
  13. Tesuto            test
  14. Supo-tsu         sports
  15. Sakka-            soccer
  16. Terebi            television
  17. Konbini          convenience store
  18. Tenisu           tennis
  19. Ge-mu           game
  20. Amerika         America


Section 3

  1. コンピューター
  2. コーラ
  3. バス
  4. アメリカ
  5. テニス


Image Credits: One, Two, Three

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