1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Japanese
  4. >
  5. I'm so confused!!


I'm so confused!!

Ok so I'm on Hiragana 3 and i just got introduced to some new things like kippu and other characters. My problem is that I don't quite understand why a small っ would shorten a word or sound; the same goes for other sounds or characters. I tried checking the discussions on these whenever I do a lesson but I never understand why those characters can shorten sounds, what it does, if it has any meaning to it, does it change a word or sentence? Questions like that.

Thank you for whoever helps! :)

August 13, 2018



When working with Katakana & Hiragana, there are several different categories of characters:

-46 gojûon: these are the basic characters you're probably most familiar with, and they're what you'll find in any standard Hiragana or Katakana chart.

-20 dakuon: these are the characters you get when you add two short strokes at the upper right of a character, which change the consonant sound of said character. An example would be how ふ changes to ぶ. ふ is a gojûon and ぶ is a dakuon.

-5 handakuon: these are the characters you get when you add a small circle at the upper right of a character, which changes the consonant sound of said character. An example would be how ふ changes to ぷ. ふ is a gojûon and ぷ is a handakuon.

-36 yôon: these are combinations of characters where the second character is written in a smaller font, such as じゃ, じゅ, and じょ. These allow for sounds to be combined, so instead of saying "jiya", "jiyu", and "jiyo", you say "jya", "jyu", and "jyo".

-1 sokuon: this, I believe, is what your original question pertains to. A sokuon is notated as a small っ (or ッ in Katakana), and it creates a small pause between syllables.

-6 additional letters: for foreign words, small-font versions of the ア, イ, ウ, エ, and オ characters can be used with other characters to create sounds that aren't necessarily standard in Japanese, such as ファ to create something similar to a "fa" sound. There is also ヴ, which can be combined with the other additional letters to make various syllables starting with a "v" sound. Usually, additional letters are seen in Katakana as I have them typed here, since foreign words are often written in Katakana.

-1 long vowel sound symbol: a horizontal bar indicates a long vowel, like in コーヒー (coffee).

I know I answered more than just your original question, but I hope this helps! ᵔᴥᵔ


Thank you so very much!!!! Not only did you help with me my question, but you helped me understand so much more!!!


Yay! Glad I could help ヽ(^◇^*)/


The last bit is useful for transcoding foreign words more accurately. Thanks.


Thank you OP for asking this question, and thank you lilyspeaksanime for answering! Please both have a lingot cause this was most helpful!


Thank you so much! And glad to help (in a way lol) :D


The small っ is used for words that need to be pronounced with a slight pause between a vowel and the next consonant. This is necessary so as to differentiate it from a similar looking word with different meaning and pronunciation. For example,

そっと (sotto) which means softly is pronounced with a slight pause between the vowel 'o' and the consonant 't'

This helps to distinguish it from:

そと (soto) which means outside.

Try feeding these two to Google translate and tap on the speaker icon to hear the difference in pronunciation.


Thank you so much!!!


You're welcome. Have fun learning!


I'd say, it's a pause during the consonant 't'. It's initiated early but released late.


A small っ denotes that the next consonant is repeated - it doesn't shorten it, rather it adds a very little pause between the repeated characters.

したい -> shitai
しったい -> shittai/shit_tai
かこ -> kako
かっこ -> kakko

basically just how you would pronounce the tt in eg. better. So when you see a small tsu/っ, you now the next consonant is doubled.


Kippu is a ticket. Check duoligo's extended hiragana list! https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/24516712/Extended-hiragana-list

Learn Japanese in just 5 minutes a day. For free.