I have a question about the Japanese language

So this is a stupid question, but what’s the difference between the big tsu and the small tsu. I remember reading that in grammar that it’s a double of one letter. However, what exactly determines the use of the big tsu or the small tsu in a sentence? Anyways, I wish you an amazing rest of your day see ya!


The small one is just to denote an abrupt pause before a consonant it has no sound. In romanji, the small tsu is depicted by doubling the following consonant. 絶対 ぜったい zettai. When you type you can also do this way.


So would Eight Things be pronounced as Yatsu or Yatsutsu? Cause I’ve been calling it Yatsutsu for a while now.

Like this やpauseつ


So just ya tsu. Ah, thank you. Now, this was probably answered a hundred times, but I’ve kind of been doing this without knowing the meaning of this, but the kun’yomi and on’yomi? Are they just two different meanings or is there something more to it? I did hear that one of them originates from China and the other is from the native Japanese people. Is that it though?

The FAQ explains it well. There are lots of similar questions in the past.


No, the pause matters. For comparison, here is やつ (from the word 奴):

And here is やっつ (from the word 八つ):

And FYI, a typical romanization for やっつ is yattsu (note the double t).


Anyways, thank you for replying. Have an amazing rest of your day see ya!

It really doesn’t have anything to do with grammar, but rather with the sounds of the language. Also, a given word is spelled a specific way. Whether it contains a big tsu or a small tsu or neither depends on the word. It has nothing to do with the sentence.


Also, a small っ at the end of a sentence represents a glottal stop, an abrupt cut-off of the sound. So あ! would be like “Ah!”, but あっ! would be more like “A-!”

It’s not precisely a soundless pause - you still need to make and hold the consonant for a beat before releasing it on the next beat. Your mouth does different things during the っ in ぜったい than it does in, say, ぜっぴん.


Or to better demonstrate: ぜっしょう.

1 Like

It’s understandable that they simplify it a bit, but another way to think of it is on’yomi is the “sound reading”, that is to say, characters read a certain way because that’s just the pronunciation for the character. And yes, those are mostly borrowed from Chinese. The sounds borrowed from Chinese had no inherent meaning to Japanese people when they were borrowed.

Kun’yomi is the “meaning reading”, characters that are read a certain way because they hold that meaning. These mostly come from Japanese, because for Japanese people, that’s where the natural meanings of words would come from, but this explains why things like ページ (page) is a kun’yomi for 頁 and メートル (meter) is a kun’yomi for 米. These would make no sense if you think of kun’yomi as the “Japanese reading” but make perfect sense in the context of kun’yomi being the “meaning reading.”

But as I said, they generalize a bit for beginners. I’ve used that kind of general explanation in the past too, I think.


Everyone is saying the same thing, a different way. I like to think of the small-tsu as breaking the word into two words. So I would think of that as yat, tsu and try to pronounce them both completely, not run them together. Which would sound different than yatsu. But it’s very hard to explain in text without demonstrating.

1 Like

Everyone is not.

It is not.

They most definitely run together. It’s not “ya-breathe-tsu”, it’s “ya-t-tsu”. Like I mentioned before, you need to form the next consonant with your mouth, and hold it for a beat before releasing. As @seanblue pointed out earlier, this is much more apparent when the following kana is a さ-line kana, because even when you hold it, air’s coming out and making a sound - ぜっしょう is pronounced “ze-sh-sho-u” and if you aren’t going “shh” the whole way through the っ, you’re gonna get some raised eyebrows.

1 Like

which is essentially what I said, differently. If you say yat-tsu or zesh-shou, you’re pronouncing it correctly. Yatsu and zeshou, not.

You said:

I don’t think this is a good way to explain it. If you say “yat” and then “tsu” as two separate words, it would sound different from やっつ. If you said “zesh” followed by “shou” it would sound very different from ぜっしょう.

1 Like

That’s fine. Some ways get the concept through to some people and not others, other people the reverse. It’s what worked for me, and I get it right in practice without literally thinking they are two separate words.

Really, none of these written explanations are good, they only seem good or bad because you already know the answer. It has to be demonstrated and practiced. Even if you get it right by accident from some description, you won’t know you’re right for sure until you see someone else do it.

Just chiming in to add that you can think of a small tsu in a word like it’s still a syllable, but it only consists of the consonant sound of the next syllable (so it’s not a pause, just a longer consonant). Also remember that WaniKani has audio for vocabulary words, make sure to listen to that, even if you think you know how to pronounce something (at least for me it also helps with remembering the reading)


Agreed, which is why I provided links to actual audio. :slight_smile:


My way is more of an extremely exaggerated way to explain it, a momentary fiction for people who literally cannot hear the difference even when demonstrated. (Zeshou. No, ‘zesshou’. That’s what I said!) . You’ve got to get them to see the thing you’re talking about, and sometimes gross exaggeration helps at first. Ok, NOW listen to the audio.