How Is Katakana Used?

Here are some examples of how katakana is used in Japanese writing.

  • Foreign loan words:ビル (‘building’), コーヒー (‘coffee’), クロワッサン (‘croissant’)
  • Foreign proper nouns:ロンドン (‘London’), ジョン スミス (‘John Smith’)
  • Onomatopoeia (words used to represent sounds), used heavily in spoken and written Japanese, including manga:ピンポン (‘pinpon’), the “ding dong” sound of a doorbell.
  • For emphasis, similar to the use of italics in English.
  • For clarity, similar to the use of capital letters in English.
  • Design-related: katakana can be used in place of hiragana and kanji for aesthetic purposes in signage, advertising, etc.