Tricks to つ and っ

If there was one thing I could go back and change about the Japanese language, it would not be the fact they have no spaces, or full stops or anything like that. It would be removing っ form ever having the pleasure of seen daylight.

I understand that when saying a word with a っ in it I just need to say nothing for that space, but what ways do you remember it needs a っ and not a つ when writing? Any tricks that you have used? I always make silly mistakes like かつき or いつしょう.


As with other things, such as telling whether to use the onyomi or kunyomi, or when to expect rendaku, you will get used to when to expect gemination with experience.

I’m sure there’s a linguistics paper out there that explains all the hidden rules and everything, but no one actually thinks about that stuff as they are learning words.


Maybe try saying those words out loud as you’re writing them, or even just sounding them out in your head. The sound difference is so distinct that I never have to think about it.


I just read word aloud vowel by vowel each time. 発売 HA-TSU-BUY. 発見 - HA----KEN. This way after a while I remember if it’s big つ or っ.

Or just make make up mnemonics and write them in notes section that available if you open “more info”. E.g. “Science is generally improves by SMALL steps based on old discoveries”. “You want to sell BIG amount of gooTSU”

A general rule of thumb is that kanji that end in つ only (but not always) become っ if the next mora starts with an unvoiced consonant (so k not g, t not d, p not b etc).

Another one is to go with what’s physically easier to say. Using @maykeye’s examples, try saying HA-TSU-BUY vs HA—B-BUY and HA-TSU-KEN vs HA—K-KEN, speaking quickly. In both cases the correct one just takes way less work to get your mouth in the right position.

Beyond that, what the others said.

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This is what i do whenever I type stuff in and learn stuff, intentionally or not. And yes, it does indeed help me remember how to write it.

To understand whether つ becomes っyou need to understand what a Japanese speaker would consider easier to pronounce. I would recommend listening to Japanese speech a lot to get used to it.


Just like others have said, read the words out loud every time you do reviews, and you’ll, maybe not the most useful advice, just get it. It will start to become obvious which words have the small っ. It will come to you eventually.

I really dislike the way WK explains small っ in readings. You don’t “shorten” つ, you make a completely different sound. IMO the WK explanation makes remembering much more challenging.


I don’t remember if they explained it or not, but you’re not going to learn a lot of useful tips and tricks on a Kanji learning website. You will find explanations about how to read these things in grammar teaching resources. WK is not such a source.

WK is not a source for learning grammar, but they do claim to be a source for learning how to read kanji. That’s their entire reason for existence.

And in that context, explanations like “Just watch out because けつ is being shortened to けっ here!” (for 欠点(けってん) ) are flat out wrong.

Oh wow. I’ve never heard of っ being used to represent the lack of a sound. It’s actually intended to be a glottal stop. That means stopping the airflow in the throat either by pressing the back of your tongue up (ie. when っ precedes a K), closing your lips (ie. when っ precedes a P) or pressing the tip of your tongue against your front teeth (ie. when っ precedes a T).

This stop action forces the next sound (always a consanant) to have be pressed out from the closed airway to give it more of a punchy sound. It’s kind of hard to describe, but if you ever read anything about accent reduction in a foreign language, they often talk about tongue positioning and airflow.

It’s often used to represent speech that gets “cut off” (あっ!) so I don’t know that I’d say it’s completely wrong to think of it as shortening.

They do teach you how to read Kanji. They give you Kanji-based vocab, and teach you its reading. You just have to remember how to read it.
That aside, for the most part, I’ve figured out when つ disappears and is replaced by the small っ. It becomes quite obvious after a while. Taking 欠点 (けってん) as an example, I knew けってん would be the correct reading because けつてん just sounded weird. It just takes time.

Don’t forget your fricatives…‘s’, ‘sh’ and ‘f’ just get extended for an extra mora.

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Thanks everyone. Lots of usefully things to think about. I think this is just one of those things that I will get over time.


Sorry, my description was just wrong, but my thinking (I think) was right. The っ does not actual have a sound by itself, it changes the way the next thing will sound. Is this correct?

I’d say it has a sound by itself, and that sound is silence. That is, all noise should stop during this character.

So 発見「はっけん」 is written like hakken but you say it like “Ha”, then no noise comes out of your mouth for a moment, then “ken”.

A good example for this is the american accent pronunciation of batman. Instead of pronouncing the “t” like you would in “bat”, it just ends up getting skipped and replaced with a moment of silence. So in japanese you could kind of write the pronunciation like ばっまん.

Cool, so that’s what I thought. I just don’t make any sound during that time.

I still, however, have the problem to writing. I need to make some “sound” in my head to prompt me type a っ and not just skip it all together. Currently I just say “small tsu” but this seams very childish… Just wondering if anyone else had a better way.

Never heard anyone say batman as baman. I learn something every day :slight_smile:


What are you using to type in characters to WaniKani?

If you just type in alphabet characters (like a standard US keyboard), you can just double the letter after the small tsu and it will convert it. That is, if you type in bakken it’ll become ばっけん.