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Here you can learn some vocabulary and numbers in Japanese, and how to pronounce them correctly. This is intended as a very basic guide: if you watch anime you've probably heard a lot of the words listed here. If you are interested in actually learning Japanese, there are many sites better dedicated to the language and all its finer points

Japanese actually uses three writing systems; composed of kanji and two syllable based systems, or syllabaries. Kanji represent whole words or concepts and is not an alphabet. The two syllabaries are called hiragana and katakana, or collectively as the kana. Hiragana and katakana are alphabets: they both have the same sounds but use different characters to represent them. Hiragana is used for native words and katakana is used for foreign or 'loan' words.

See a chart of the hiragana and katakana

The basic rules of pronounciation are relatively easy in Japanese because it is a phonetic language: there are no changes in pronounciation.

The 'vowels' are pronounced:

a= ah i= ee u= oo e= eh o= oh

The other letters are pronounced by adding a consonant sound to a vowel sound. The one exception is the English letter 'n' has it's own equivalent in Japanese. There are more sublte nuances to pronounciation but those are more advanced.

For example, the word 'gomen' would be pronounced 'goh-meh-n'

ai: love

anata: you (not used for superiors, since it sounds coarse that way)

baka: fool

bishounen: a young good looking guy

bishoujo: a young good looking girl

chibi: small

chotto: just a little

daijoubu: I'm okay, I'm fine

dare: who

doko: where

gaijin: foreigner

genki: full of energy

gomen: sorry

hai: yes, I understand

iie: no, that is incorrect

ittekimasu: I'm off (literally 'I go and return')

ittarashai: please return (the response to "ittekimasu")

ittadakimasu: (there is no direct translation, closest would be "bon appetit"

ja: see ya

kawaii: cute, adorable

konban wa: good evening

konnichi wa: good afternoon

kowai: scary

nani: what

naze: why

ohayo: good morning

okaeri: welcome back (the response to "tadaima")

oyasumi: good night

sensei: teacher

sumimasen: Excuse me

tadaima: I've returned (said when arriving home)

yappari: I knew it, I thought so

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In Japanese, there are two sets of words to use to count. The one most people are familiar with is borrowed from Chinese and starts with "ichi, ni..." The other system is indigenous Japanese. There is no single rule to decide when one system is used over the other. However, the Chinese system is generally the one used and the Japanese system is only used for numbers up to 10. It is also common to write numbers in the Arabic system.

one (1)ichihi(to)
two (2)nifu(ta)
three (3)san*mi
four (4)shiyo/(yon)
five (5)goitsu
six (6)rokumu
seven (7)shichinana
eight (8)hachiya
nine (9)kyuukokono
ten (10)jyuutou
*shi can also mean "death" so people often use "yon" instead, even though it is from the Japanese system.

Numbers higher than ten are easy to "assemble"

To create a multiple of ten, just take a number (2-9) and put it before jyuu. So twenty would be nijyuu, thirty would be sanjyuu etc.

To create 11-19 take a number (1-9) and put it after jyuu. So eleven would be jyuuichi, twelve would be jyuuni etc.

To create a number in between a multiple of ten, take a single number (1-9) and put it after the multiple (20,30,etc). So twenty-one would be nijyuuichi, twenty-two would be nijyuuni etc.

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