Pronunciation - ~っ , う, and double kana

So. I’ve been studying Japanese for a whopping three months now, but I have a question tingling in the back of my mind.

What the heck is up with the pronunciation of ~っ , う, and double kana ??

Some days I think I understand but then others I’m completely lost. So now it’s time to clear it up once and for all.

I’m going to use the following examples -

-なかった : The negative plain past tense ending
だろう : casual assertive “right ?”
お母さん : mother

So for the itty bitty つ kana, what I’ve gathered is that it just means when you read the word you kind of cut off the length of the kana preceding it, んですか ? So のみなかった sounds more like "nominaka-ta"like you’ve choked a bit on the “ka” sound than nomina"kah"ta, yeah ?

It’s more the う and double kana sounds that mess with me. Do they both extend the sound of the preceding kana ? If so, why would you have two different ways of saying it ? And how would one then differentiate a word with no double kana sound and the mini つ ? For example, when you write out お母さん in furigana, you do おかあさん instead of おかさん - but for simplicity sake, let’s say it was pronounced as おかさん - what’s the difference between saying か and かっ ?

As for the difference between using a double kana and う, is it just you use double kana for any syllable you’re extending that isn’t お ? But then, if that’s the case, why is 通る said とおる ?

Hopefully I explained myself clearly :sweat_smile:

Side note- I also posted this in the Bunpro community, so I’m really covering my bases here :stuck_out_tongue:

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っ is pronounced like if the next consonant was “restrained” in your throat, delaying it and making it explosive. I know this isn’t the best explanation, but…

出発しゅっぱつ is like shupppppppppatsu
日食にっしょく nisssssssshoku
学校がっこう gakkkkkkkkkoooooooo
おと oto (sound) vs おっと ottttto (husband)

あ, い an う are used to make vowel sound longer.

おばさん obasan (aunt)
おばあさん obaaaaaaaaaasan (grandmother)

あ is used to make -a ending kana sound longer
い is used to make both -e and -i ending kana sound longer
う is used to make both -o and -u ending kana sound longer.

う is used with on’yomi reading.
お I often see used with kun’yomi reading, like 通る or 大きい

Japanese often rise their tone of voice, like they were singing xD


Thanks this is perfect XD

え and お also show up at the party sometimes. You’ll see them in kunyomi readings.

Also remember that the small っ also makes words longer. You basically make a small pause in the word.
おと is two beats; おっと is three
おばさん is four beats, おばあさん is five.

If you want some more information and practice, this free online course is really good:


Fantastic :joy:

Just want to point out that, at least for most English speakers, you likely use っ-type pauses in your everyday speech already.

Say “black cat” out loud. You probably don’t enunciate both “k” sounds, and instead hold the “k” between the words.

A lot of word combinations where the last letter of the first word and first letter of the last word are the same, you’ll end up doing that or something similar (Ts can sometimes get a subtle glottal stop as well but you get the idea)


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