Hiragana: The S Line
Friday, October 23rd, 2009
Welcome to the third instalment of our hiragana lessons on zonjineko.com – the hiragana S line.
We’ll be stepping through the third line of the hiragana table which, if you’ve read through my first two lessons for the A line and K line, you may assume would just be as simple as adding a “s” to the front of the vowels (aiueo) but on this occasion that does not hold true.
The S line signals the first of what will be many rule-breaker moments that you’ll experience as you learn Japanese. It consists of sa (さ), shi (し), su (す), se (せ), so (そ). The changes to our aiueo rule happens with shi (し), which takes the place of what would be “si”, however the rest of the line remains as is.
|さ||sa||さけ (sa-ke)||sake, alcohol|
|そ||so||あそこ (a-so-ko)||over there|
As you move past the kana and on to kanji, your use of Hiragana will be less and less, however there are certain words that do not have a kanji equivalent and always appear as hiragana.
One of those is です (de-su), which as you may have noticed from reading any Japanese text, forms an integral part at the end of sentences.
Example: 犬が欲しいです (I want a dog)
To see real world usage of hiragana, try visiting a site such as Yomiuri Online, a popular Japanese news site, and read through as many stories as possible, pick out the hiragana you know and make a note of your progress. It’s exciting as a beginner to realise that you are improving your Japanese skills and can identify some actual Japanese.
Please don’t ever be discouraged by how much you don’t know in terms of kana or kanji – just get excited about the ones you do know.
Learn Not Burn
As I mentioned in my A line article, I see a lot of students that think they can learn the hiragana in a day. While this may be true, the retention of this quick learning may be fairly short. We have all crammed for exams before and a week later remember none of it.
There’s no doubt some people can learn things very quickly but I prefer to take it slowly and make sure I am actually learning what I am reading rather than just cramming and forgetting.
I find the best practice is to read as much hiragana text as you can even if you don’t understand what the words mean. You want to get to the point where you can read it as quickly as your own alphabet and while this seems a mile away at the moment – it will become reality as long as you put in the hours to make it happen.
I have included below a sa-shi-su-se-so (さ-し-す-せ-そ) worksheet for you to practice writing and memorising the characters plus a full hiragana worksheet.
Also check out:
- Wikipedia’s Hiragana page »
- Real Kana – Free online kana quiz game »
- Tangorin – Free Online Dictionary with Example Sentences »