Little っ or big つ?

I struggle to learn which to use and when. I realise っ is used to indicate a double consonant but why is itsu sometimes いつ and other times いっ?

The っ usually happens when the word would be difficult to say smoothly with the “normal” reading. For example, 学校 (学 = がく, 校 = こう) is がっこう, rather than がくこう. There are certain patterns for this that hold true most of the time, but I’ve found that it’s better to just absorb this information over time.


Perhaps the necessity of writing this in text is making it a little confusing, but just to be clear, if you can hear the entirety of “itsu” in a word, it is invariably いつ.

いっ would be something like “i–” with a stop. You can only hear the “i”.


When っ is used at the end of a word it means the word suddenly cuts off. You see it often in onomatopoeia.

In your example, the difference between いっ and いつ would be how they are said. Like Leebo said, it would be the difference between saying “i-” vs “itsu.”

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Thanks for your help. But I still don’t see why みっか
(mitsuka) and よっか (yotsuka) have a small つ while いつか (itsuka) has a big つ.
Is this just something that one has to learn of is there a rule for it…other than “that’s how it is”.

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Those are mikka and yokka, no “tsu” would be written in the romaji.

It’s probable that there is some kind of etymological reason, but whether that would help learners memorize which is which isn’t a given.


These numbers are really irregular and it’s probably best to just memorize them. It’s unfortunate that some things learned really early on like this are so irregular, but on the bright side that also means they are common enough that they’ll get drilled into your brain eventually.

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Thanks again. Like learning French, there appear to be some things which are just as they are.

I am impressed with the speed of your replies. Makes this a really useful forum.

Crikey I am stupid sometimes. Using Wani kanji I hav copied the material from each lesson to a set of Flashcards. I used my own translation of the hiragana and made a mess of it. Never occurred to me that みっか would be mikka …I just sounded it out so came up with itsuka.
So, nit a strange language, just dumb pupils.


In fairness it can be both - not that Japanese is unique in its strangeness - you may have heard of ‘ghoti’ (if not, look here)
The sokuon is a bit weird in my opinion for that reason - it doesn’t represent the kana that was made small, unlike the a i u e o small kana, which represent the same sounds as part of compound kana (this is usually in katakana sounds like fa fi fe fo, tu, etc.)

You must be struggling with vocab at level 10 if you haven’t realized small tsu is actually consonant doubling. Though it is quite common when first kanji reading ends with tsu to turn into small tsu when with another letter: Mitsu -> Mitsu+ka -> mikka etc.


“Lil’ Tsu” is actually a pretty good name for a Japanese rapper


Just what we need. Another Lil.


Well in this case it’s at least culturally relevant. I still don’t know what Lil’ Yachty means.

Nicolas Cage’s rapper name is Lil’ Durtle, in case you’re wondering.


He’s rich enough to own a yacht, so he’s pretentious, snobby, and haughty. Therefore, he’s yacht-y.

I’m rich enough to own durtles. So there.

If you have many, that would make you durtly.

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