How to know if a letter is used for extension or starting another word?

Hi again,

It’s me the spammer! (In before getting banned…)

I just remembered something else, how do you know if a letter is used for extension or to start another word?

It’s easy when you are going through basic lessons but it’s harder with real Japanese reading as there are no spaces.
The lessons for noobs like me : 東京に 住んで います。
The stuff for real men : 東京に住んでいます。(Good luck with that)

Now to explain my problem :

Example : 住んでいます。(sunde imasu)

How do I know if “い” is for “でい” (Dei pronounced Dee) or “います” (imasu)?

Like for me this can be read in two ways :
-Sundei masu.
-Sunde imasu.

I guess it’s also necessary to learn vocabulary to be able to read Japanese? I noticed that I struggle reading Japanese sentences just because I don’t know where the words end (even if I can read Kana without problem).

Thanks in advance!


Yup, it’s necessary to learn vocab. Also grammar, since ている is a very common grammar point (て-form of 住む is 住んで + いる/います). It’s somewhat similar to the present continuous tense in English.


You picked a pretty easy example to parse, since you have two verbs next to each other. So if you know anything about how verbs conjugate, it’s not confusing.


Listen to lots and lots of Japanese as it’s spoken by natives and you won’t even have to think about examples like that.

でい has three sounds. The “d” the “eh” and the “ee” or “i” sound. When you have two vowel sounds in the same syllable it’s known as a diphthong. It should sound somewhat similar to how the word “day” as it’s pronounced by most native English speakers but shorter sounding. soon-day-mass as an approximation.

It’ll come naturally through lots of practice and exposure to native material. Also as your vocabulary increases together with your understanding of grammar and verb conjugations it’ll be second nature and you’ll find it very difficult to be confused about how to divide words in a sentence.

Just keep at it!

1 Like

Read kids’ books until you’re ready for more advanced material. Kids’ books split the sentences up, so it’s much easier to read. Then, as your Japanese gets better, you’ll move onto more advanced stuff. Well, that’s my plan anyway!

As you learn grammar, you’ll be able to pick out particles and other things within sentences and understand what function they’re serving in that sentence. That’ll allow you to break up your sentences and better know what words these are and how they’re working together to provide a given meaning. There are lots of different verb conjugations that result in scenarios like the one you posted, and so learning those will probably give you the biggest leg up, in that respect.


It’s just a thing you’ll struggle with for a while. My advice is to familiarize yourself with basic grammar because particles and certain conjugations give you a good idea of what you’re dealing with, even if you don’t know the words they’re attached to.

Like you see a word ending in い, かった, くて you know you probably just saw the end of a word that’s an い-adjective. You see られる・される or some variant then you know that you just saw the end of a verb.


I must say that kids books actually present the extra difficulty sometimes of not having kanji to help with the parsing :sweat_smile:

verb conjugations, adjectival forms and particles are fairly easy to get used to, but so far (reading kids books) verbal nouns and compound verbs sometimes are trickier than if kanji was more present. Today for example I bumped into なき… which ended up been 泣き… hence “weep /weeping”. Same goes for compound verbs; not having the kanji for the actual verbs being mixed tricks me still (specially when aren’t the typical ones, like つく、こむ、とる、etc).


Yes, that’s true too!

I was going to say that this isn’t really a problem, but then I remembered that today I was completely stumped on a sentence because I thought it had the particle ものの, which didn’t make any sense, when in fact it was もの の. I missed that because I’m not good at japaneseing yet, though, since context made it clear.

This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.