How Is Hiragana Used?

Here are some examples of how hiragana is used in Japan.

  • Anything written for young children (educational material, manga, etc.):わたしはたなかです(‘I am Tanaka.’)
  • Verb endings, particles, and other grammar-related cases:日本語勉強している(‘I am studying Japanese.’)
  • Hundreds of words for which there is no kanji, or where the kanji version of the word is rarely used:ここ (‘here’), はい (‘yes’), きれい (‘pretty’)
  • Furigana, the small hiragana “subtitles” that appear alongside kanji.
  • Design-related: hiragana can be used in place of katakana and kanji for aesthetic purposes in signage, advertising, etc.
  • Some given names are written in hiragana:あかね (‘Akane’, a girl’s name)