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JPLearn! - Volume I
Asking Questions, Dakuten and Handakuten
Asking Questions, Dakuten and Handakuten
Asking questions and the Particle ka

We’re now able to make simple statements for “This, that, and that over there” but how do we make questions out of these statements? How do we turn “This is a book” into “Is this a book?”

This is quite easy; in fact all you need to do is add the particle “ka” at the end of the sentence.The particle “ka” expresses doubt or the unknown for what precedes it, much like the question mark in English. Let’s take a look at some of these examples:

Here are some examples:
Example StatementTurned Into a Question
Kore wa mizu desu.
(This is water)
Kore wa mizu desu ka?
(Is this water?)
Sore wa ringu desu.
(That is a ring)
Sore wa ringu desu ka?
(Is that a ring?)
Are wa densha desu.
(That over there is a train)
Are wa densha desu ka?
(Is that a train over there?)

There is nothing more to asking questions, it really is just that easy.

Please take some time to point at some objects near you, near someone else, or outside and practice making these statements or asking questions.

Hiragana – Introduction to Dakuten and Handakuten

Presently we know vowels and the columns “K, S, T” for hiragana as a total of 20 Japanese characters. We can easily nearly duplicate that amount by learning about Dakuten and Hadakuten. Dakuten is used to change the sound of a syllable.

For example, か can turn into ga by adding a dakuten (two small strokes) on the top right of the character where it turns into か into が.

Dakuten does not exist for all characters, as for example they cannot be used with vowels. Dakuten may be used for the ‘k, s, t, and h’ columns.

The handakuten modifies ‘h’ kana into ‘p’ and can be represented with a small maru (circle) at the top right of the kana. While we have not yet learned about ha(は), please keep in mind that it will change into pa(ぱ) if a handakuten is used.

Important Exceptions
As we progress, we will learn more about the exceptions that exist and because exceptions exist, please do not treat every syllable the same. For this lesson's assignment, we will come across some of these exceptions such as し will become じ(ji) instead of zi. These exist simply because there are no words pronounced with”zi” and as such they must be constrained.

Let’s look at the table:
Hiragana we know without Dakuten
Hiragana with Dakuten
-が (ga)ざ (za)だ (da)
-ぎ (gi)じ (ji) * Exception *ぢ (ji) * Exception*
-ぐ (gu)ず (zu)づ (zu)* Special*
-げ (ge)ぜ (ze)で (de)
-ご (go)ぞ (zo)ど (do)
じ,ぢand ずexplanation

As you may have noticed in the table, there are two ji sounding syllables. Both of them may be used for their own reasons usually due to the pairing of syllables. Historically speaking the usage of dji and dzu (now more commonly referred to as ji and zu) were more prominent up until 1946 during the Japanese script reform (post-war Japanese).

Today, the pronunciation remains the same between the two however some dialects continue to show distinction between the two sounds.There are rules to follow when writing either ji or dji however pronunciation as mentioned will remain the same regardless which one is used.

To know when to write either or can be for the most part very straight forward. Compounding words to create a new sound will for the most part change the way it is written.

For example; to write “bloody nose” we would use the word “hana” (nose), and chi (blood) to create hanaji / ぢ. While knowing the precise differences is a rewarding experience, it can be considered premature to learn it this early in the course, however it is important to realize that such a difference exist.

Stroke Order

Before we complete this lesson we must first learn the stroke order of Dakuten and Handakuten. Let’s see our first example by writing か. The next step is to add two strokes starting from the bottom-left to the top-right to create が.

Let’s look at Example (A):
Click to expand

Write the maru counter-clockwise as seen in Example (B):
Click to expand
End of Lesson

We’ve learned a lot today and thus far you are accomplishing so much in the field of Japanese language. Soon, you will find yourself speaking fluent Japanese.

Keep up the good work and don't forget to do today's assignment.
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