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Japanese Equivalents of Single English Letters

Hi everyone!

Are there any equivalents of single English letters in Japanese?

For example, if I'd make an anime character whose name is just "J" or just "D", how would I symbolize that in Japanese?

Please note that this is different from the character "L" (in case you're aware of the anime Death Note) as his name is symbolized as "L" in both English and Japanese.

I'm looking to actually change the English letter into its exact Japanese equivalent.

Also, if I'd go for "JD" instead of just "J" or just "D", would I just combine the two Japanese symbols together or is there an entirely different symbol that should be used instead?

Thank you very much! ^_^

December 11, 2017



Foreign names are generally written using the katakana. If you pronounce JD as jey-dee it would be ジェーディー and for jee-dee: ジーディー.

For foreign sounds that don't have simple katakana equivalents extended katakana can be used: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcription_into_Japanese#Extended_katakana_2

There are also name converters online, but it's safer to handpick the right katakana to avoid misspelling.

Foreign names should not be written by choosing the right sounds of kanji and putting them together, because apart from special cases only Japanese and some Chinese and Korean names can be written that way. The meaning of a couple of kanji put together may make no sense, even if they are pronounced like the name.

Fun fact: L's name is written as L but pronounced as "Eru" in the Japanese version of Death Note, because there is no "l" sound in Japanese. Light's name uses the kanji 月 - tsuki - "moon", but he actually is called "Raito":ライト.

I hope this helped! :)


Your examples for J.D. and G.D. could also be represented in kana as ジェー・ディー and ジー・ディー. The dot is often used to separate initials or first/middle/last names.


Thank you for the info, I didn't know that :D


Yeah, I imagine the decision to write L's name like that was a stylistic choice. But you can't really pronounce that as a letter noise in Japanese any more than you can in English (we say "el", not lll). You... could probably write your name as JD if you wanted? But it might make it easier on people if you also included katakana pronunciation.

Just as additional data, I do know of an anime character called Jay whose name is written as ジェイ, Jei. There are at least some options.

There are sort of equivalents of single letters in Japanese, in that there are hiragana/katakana that would seem like a single letter to an English speaker. Those would be the vowels (a, i, u, e, o) and n. But they wouldn't be pronounced like English letters. They'd be pronounced like the sounds they make. For example, あ/ア is pronounced like ahh, not ayy. ん/ン is an nn noise, rather than sounding like "en".


I think Duolingo uses Hiragana, but most Japanese speakers that I know use katakana.


In the lessons at the beginning there are two example foreign names used: John : ジョン and Maria:マリア , both in katakana.

On the other hand, Tanaka (Japanese name) is written with kanji: 田中

  • 2517

Some abbreviations (and numbers too) are usually left as-is, without transliterating them. Take a look at this road sign:


Notice that the abbreviation "JCT." (Junction) is actually used in the Japanese text on the sign pointing to つくば (Tsukuba).


I see. Thank you for your response guys. ^_^

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