Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Words Written With Hiragana in Japanese

In Japanese, sometimes a word is written with hiragana instead of kanji or katakana. This can happen for a couple of reasons.

First and foremost, if a word does not have kanji, or if you want to write a word without kanji for some reason, it's generally better to write the word with katakana instead.

This happens because hiragana is normally used to write the stuff between words, such as grammatical particles and okurigana, and not to write the words themselves. So using katakana makes more sense, as that way it's easier to tell the words apart.

However, sometimes a word is such that it looks like "the stuff between words," and not like a distinctly meaningful word itself. When this happens, it gets written with hiragana instead of katakana.

For example: basic adverbs, such as mama まま, "as is," and mou もう, "already." Suffixes such as sama さま, san さん, chan ちゃん, and kun くん. Prefixes such as the o お found in oniisan お兄さん and ojiisan お爺さん.

Besides that, there are cases where a word gets written with hiragana for aesthetic reasons. This happens because hiragana looks childish, and kanji looks serious. So if you were writing the dialogue of a child character, for example, writing sugoi すごい with hiragana looks cutesy and may fit the character better than writing sugoi 凄い with kanji.

Words Commonly Written with Hiragana

Some further examples of words commonly written with hiragana include:

The kosoado こそあど pronouns. For example: kono 此の, kore 此れ, konata 此方 are hardly ever written that way. The word anata 貴方 is sometimes written like that, but it's also mostly written with hiragana.

The words itsu 何時, "when," naze 何故 and "why" are normally written with hiragana because honestly you can't blame me for reading it as nanji 何時 every time instead. The reasoning words hazu 筈 and wake 訳, which are rather tough to translate, are usually written with hiragana.

The most basic auxiliaries are always written with hiragana when they are performing the role of auxiliaries, only maybe being written with kanji when they are used somehow else. Other less-basic auxiliaries are also usually written with hiragana.

Auxiliary verbs include: dekiru 出来る, dearu で在る, ageru 上げる, kureru 呉れる, morau 貰う. Auxiliary adjectives include: nai 無い, hoshii 欲しい, nikui 難い, yasui 易い. Among other words.

The adjective ii いい, "good," is particularly interesting because it can be written with kanji, but it's usually supposed to be read differently when that's done: yoi 良い.

Other adjectives commonly written with hiragana include: kawaii 可愛い, amai 甘い, oishii 美味しい, mazui 不味い, yasashii 易しい, ureshii 嬉しい, urusai 煩い, hidoi 酷い.

Of course, there are many more other words that are usually written with hiragana. The Japanese Multilingual Dictionary happens to index them, and you can actually look them up on Jisho.org by searching the tag #uk (usually kana).

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