Combination Hiragana

“Believe nothing. No Matter where you have read it, or who said it, even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own common sense.” – Buddha

Combination hiragana are technically two separate kana combined into one (which is why I’m calling them combination hiragana), but since they’re so common, and basically counted as “one sound” I thought it would be good if you went over the pronunciation of these.

Essentially, combination hiragana consist of two parts.

The first part is the “i-row.” Don’t confuse this with a column, I’m talking about all the “i-sound” hiragana, as in: “i, ki, shi, chi, ni, hi, mi, ri…” When you are working with “combo-hiragana” you start with something from the “i-row.” (P.S., make sure you’re pronouncing the “i” in “i-row” correctly!).

The second part is either ya, yu, or yo. When written, they are written smaller in order to indicate they’re attached to the previous kana (i.e. something from the i-row). You don’t need to know much about this right now though – you only need to learn how to pronounce them.

Let’s take a look at some examples, and then you’ll practice pronouncing them.

a きゃ = kya.

With this one, I combined “ki” plus “small ya” to create “kya.” You could do the same with the “yu” and “yo” as well. “Ki” + “yu” = Kyu. “Ki” + “yo” = Kyo.

a じゃ = jya.

Just like “kya” above, I’m combining “ji” + “small ya” to make “jya.”

a にゅ = nyu.

“Ni” + “small yu” = “nyu.” Just like the other ones, we drop the “i” and combine it with the “Y” sound, which comes from the small-ya/yu/yo.

a みょ = myo.

Mi + small yo = myo.

a りゃ、りゅ、りょ = rya, ryu, ryo

Your worst nightmare. Remember how to pronounce the R-column? Good. Now, apply that to combination hiragana and practice practice practice!

I imagine you’ll be able to pronounce most of these just fine. Keep doing what you’ve been doing in the previous pages in order to learn the pronunciation. Since the examples above didn’t cover all the possible sounds, please refer to the video below (as well as your hiragana sheet) and practice before moving on.

For the most part, you’ve now mastered the pronunciation of all the kana. There’s some other funny things (like long vowels and small tsu), but we’ll talk about them when we start reading and writing hiragana (it’ll be a lot easier to do when you can actually see it in action). Now that you’ve learned pronunciation, reading and writing will be a lot easier for you. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but easier? Yes.

The sooner you start reading and writing, the better. It’s going to help with your pronunciation (we’ll keep practicing!) and you’ll be able to continue making progress.

Let’s move on to the next chapter! Now is a better time than any!

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