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TYJ Double hiragana for consonants + y + vowels

This article is in the series Teach Yourself Japanese

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 や, ゆ, or よ ("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:

きゃkya[ kʲa ]English "k" + Japanese "y" + Japanese "a".
きゅkyu[ kʲɯ ]English "k" + Japanese "y" + Japanese "u".
きょkyo[ kʲo ]English "k" + Japanese "y" + Japanese "o".

g + y + vowels:

ぎゃgya[ gʲa ]English "g" + Japanese "y" + Japanese "a".
ぎゅgyu[ gʲɯ ]English "g" + Japanese "y" + Japanese "u".
ぎょgyo[ gʲo ]English "g" + Japanese "y" + Japanese "o".

s + y + vowels:

しゃsya (sha)[ ɕa ]Similar to English "sh" + Japanese "a".
See し for Japanese "sh".
しゅsyu (shu)[ ɕɯ ]Similar to English "sh" + Japanese "u".
しょsyo (sho)[ ɕo ]Similar to English "sh" + Japanese "o".

z + y + vowels:

じゃzya (ja)[ dʒa ]Similar to English "j" + Japanese "a".
See じ for Japanese "j".
じゅzyu (ju)[ dʒɯ ]Similar to English "j" + Japanese "u".
じょzyo (jo)[ dʒo ]Similar to English "j" + Japanese "o".

t + y + vowels:

ちゃtya (cha)[ tɕa ]Similar to English "j" + Japanese "a".
See じ for Japanese "j".
ちゅtyu (chu)[ dɕɯ ]Similar to English "j" + Japanese "u".
ちょtyo (cho)[ dɕo ]Similar to English "j" + Japanese "o".

d + y + vowels:

ぢゃzya (ja)[ dʒa ]Similar to English "j" + Japanese "a".
See じ for Japanese "j".
ぢゅzyu (ju)[ dʒɯ ]Similar to English "j" + Japanese "u".
ぢょzyo (jo)[ dʒo ]Similar to English "j" + Japanese "o".

n + y + vowels:

にゃnya[ nʲa ]Similar to Spanish "ñ" + Japanese "a".
See に for actual pronunciation.
You can pronounce it as English "ny" + Japanese "a".
にゅnyu[ nʲɯ ]Similar to Spanish "ñ" + Japanese "u".
You can pronounce it as English "ny" + Japanese "u".
にょnyo[ nʲo ]Similar to Spanish "ñ" + Japanese "o".
You can pronounce it as English "ny" + Japanese "o".

h + y + vowels:

ひゃhya[ ça ]German "ch" + Japanese "a".
See ひ for German "ch".
You can pronounce it as English "hy" + Japanese "a".
ひゅhyu[ çɯ ]German "ch" + Japanese "u".
You can pronounce it as English "hy" + Japanese "u".
ひょhyo[ ço ]German "ch" + Japanese "o".
You can pronounce it as English "hy" + Japanese "o".

b + y + vowels:

びゃbya[ bja ]English "b" + Japanese "y" + Japanese "a".
びゅbyu[ bjɯ ]English "b" + Japanese "y" + Japanese "u".
びょbyo[ bjo ]English "b" + Japanese "y" + Japanese "o".

p + y + vowels:

ぴゃpya[ pja ]English "p" + Japanese "y" + Japanese "a".
ぴゅpyu[ pjɯ ]English "p" + Japanese "y" + Japanese "u".
ぴょpyo[ pjo ]English "p" + Japanese "y" + Japanese "o".

m + y + vowels:

みゃmya[ mja ]English "m" + Japanese "y" + Japanese "a".
みゅmyu[ mjɯ ]English "m" + Japanese "y" + Japanese "u".
みょmyo[ mjo ]English "m" + Japanese "y" + Japanese "o".

r + y + vowels:

りゃrya[ rʲa ]Japanese "r" + Japanese "y" + Japanese "a".
りゅryu[ rʲɯ ]Japanese "r" + Japanese "y" + Japanese "u".
りょryo[ rʲo ]Japanese "r" + Japanese "y" + Japanese "o".

Hiragana examples:

Pitch:L H
Romanization: o tya
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 りょくちゃ "ryokutya" for green tea and the word こうちゃ "kôtya" for European tea. Japanese tea is not always green; ほうじちゃ "hôzitya" (roasted tea) and げんまいちゃ "genmaitya" (roasted tea with popped rice) are brown. Other than them, うーろんちゃ "ûrontya" (oolong tea) and むぎちゃ "mugitya" (barley tea) are popular. Japanese people never use sugar or milk for any tea but European tea.

Pitch:L H H
Romanization:syô yu
Meaning:soy sauce (noun)

Pitch:L H H H
Romanization:gyû nyû
Meaning:cow's milk (noun)
Next article in the series 'Teach Yourself Japanese': Double hiragana used only for imported words
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About author
My name is TAKASUGI Shinji. TAKASUGI is my family name, and Shinji is my given name; a family name is placed before a given name in Japan, as in other Asian nations. My family name is capitalized to avoid misunderstanding.

I have been living in Yokohama since I was born. Yokohama is the second largest city in Japan, which is just 30 kilometers away from the biggest city Tôkyô. It takes 30 minutes to go by train from home to Shibuya, which is the hottest town now in Tôkyô.

I work as a display engineer.

One of my hobbies is creating things with computers; creating programs, computer graphics and web pages is the thing I spent a lot of time doing. I am also interested in a wide range of sciences, and linguistics is my favorite. I like English and I like using it, but my focus is mainly on Japanese, which is my native language. I'm proud of knowing the language, and the difference between English and Japanese has been fascinating me. I have been thinking whether I can introduce it to people outside of Japan. My attempt of introducing Japanese with some Java applets has had more than 1 million visitors.


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