Should all the words in the sentence stay close together or space out like in English?

Stupid question I know but it’s been bugging me.

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They stay close together — some resources (i.e. beginner resources) may sometimes space things out for you for easier breakdown and understanding, but in reality the cake spaces are a lie :durtle_the_explorer:

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There are generally no spaces in Japanese

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image

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In Japanese, you write using hiragana, katakana and kanji (mostly kanji and hiragana). As kanji is a character that has its own meaning, you learn or get used to treat it as a unit, something that is independent of other words. As such, you can put them together and understand where one word or idea ends and another begins.

Something like: 私は日本語が読める
Which roughly translates to “I can read Japanese”, can be put all together and be understood, since 私 is “I”, 日本語 is “Japanese”, and 読める is “can read”.

An important point to take into account is that as a non-native Japanese speaker, you usually don’t start by learning kanji, and instead learn hiragana and katakana first, with hiragana, the same sentence would look like this: わたしはにほんごがよめる

It is now really difficult or at least weird to read that sentence and understand its meaning, mostly because they are just syllables, and have no established meaning as kanji does.

That’s why, in Japanese textbooks and the like, hiragana can be separated by spaces so that you understand (sort of) where a word starts and ends:
わたし は にほんご が よめる

Even then, since this isn’t the usual writing, spaces are just there to make it easier for us as non-native to grasp the meaning of the sentence, as we use spaces between each word.

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Everyone already said that there’s no spaces between words usually. Just thought I’d add some additional information.

If you ever happen across kids books written entirely or mostly in hiragana, you will see spaces too, it’s not just for us foreigners. Kids also start out entirely with hiragana. :wink:

There’s rules to where the spaces go, too. Usually particles attach to the word they belong to. So, the above mentioned example would rather look something like this:

わたしは にほんごが よめる。

In breakdowns of sentences (like in beginners textbooks aimed at foreigners) you may find the particles separated as well when they teach you a new sentence structure or the like? Most resources I’ve seen don’t.

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Just remember the language of Tokyo is similar to Tokyo. Rarely any space. :smile:

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It may also be worth mentioning that while generally no spaces are used, there are situations where a space may be used to show a brief silence in speech, similar to a comma in English.

Example from a manga

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There. Fixed it for you! :smiley:

Can’t go around calling language questions stupid on a language learning site, now can we? Questions are educational!

Welcome to WK! ^^

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Thamk ya’ll for the help I appreciate it!

You’ll also see spaces used in old computer systems or video games that used katakana only due to technical limitations. 「一人では危険じゃ。これを授けよう。」 is pretty easy to read without spaces, but 「ヒトリデキケンジャコレヲサズケヨウ」 would kind of just like a wall of kana without some spacing.

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