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Lesson Transcript

Hi everyone! I’m Michelle Yamamoto.
Welcome back to The Ultimate Japanese Pronunciation Guide at JapanesePod101.com.
In this lesson, you'll master the first of 2 consonant groups.
Each group is broken down into rows, following traditional Japanese practice. The first of these is the k-row.
か、き、く、け、こ
Can you recognize the "k" sound in き is a little different to the k sound in か、く、け、こ?
When pronouncing か、く、け、こ, raise the tongue to the back of the mouth, block the breath flow completely with the tongue, then release the sound. Try it!
For "き", raise the tongue to the roof of your mouth, release "k" and make a sharp い sound.
Repeat after me.
Next is the "s" row.
さ、し、す、せ、そ
Did you notice that "し" is different from the English pronunciation of "si" in "signal"? In Japanese, し is romanized as "s/h/i". So, it's not "si" but, し.
Also, be careful, because it's a little different from the English pronunciation of "sh" in "sheep." Don't round the lips like you do in English.
Repeat after me.
Next is the "t" row.
た、ち、つ、て、と
When you pronounce these three sounds, た、て、と、you can pronounce the "t" sound like an English letter T, but softer
Repeat after me.
The next sound is ち. The first consonant sound is just like the "ch" in "chicken".
"The next sound is つ. Be careful to pronounce it like "tsu" and not "tu" or "stu."
When you say "cats" in English, hear the "ts" sound at the end?"
Repeat after me.
Tighten up the front edge of the tongue, unlike "す". Repeat after me again.
Great! Are you getting the hang of it now?
Next up is the "n" row.
な、に、ぬ、ね、の
Place the tip of your tongue on your teethridge and pronounce the "n" like in English. Put the front edge of the tongue between the back of the teeth and the teethridge. It's also nasal. You know you're making a nasal sound when you feel your voice vibrating up through your nose.
Repeat after me.
Next is the "h" row.
は、ひ、ふ、へ、ほ
Let's try these three sounds
は、へ、ほ
Repeat after me.
Don't make the "h" sound too soft, otherwise these syllables will just sound like "あ、え、お".
Let's try again.
Okay, moving on to the next two sounds, ひ and ふ.
These sounds don't exist in English, so practice these the most!
When you say ひ, your tongue position and mouth shape is similar to when you say い. So, try to say い first and say ひ.
いーひー,
いーひー
ひ"
Repeat after me.
Let's practice some words now!
ひも string、ひ・も、ひも
Repeat after me.
ひも
The next one is ふ. This sound is unique to Japanese.
ふ is like a soft, free-flowing "f" sound. Bring the lips together but don't let the lips or teeth touch. Imagine you're getting ready to blow out a candle, but you're just allowing the air to escape. ふ
Repeat after me.
Let's practice ふ in some words!
ふね ship、ふ・ね、ふね
Repeat after me.
ふね
Okay! Let's review some more sounds in words.
Repeat after me.
かさ, umbrella, か・さ、かさ
かさ
しお, salt, し・お、しお
しお
つき, moon, つ・き、つき
つき
くち、mouth, く・ち、くち
くち
なつ summer, な・つ、なつ
なつ
ほし star, ほ・し、ほし
ほし
You heard a lot of sounds in this lesson. Some are similar to English sounds, while others may sound new to you. Keep listening and practicing to tune your ears to the sounds.
You're more than halfway through the consonant groups. In the next lesson, you'll master the remaining consonant groups.
What was the most difficult sound for you to pronounce? Tell us about it in the comments!
See you in the next Ultimate Japanese Pronunciation Guide lesson!

98 Comments

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😄 😞 😳 😁 😒 😎 😠 😆 😅 😜 😉 😭 😇 😴 😮 😈 ❤️️ 👍

JapanesePod101.com Verified
February 28th, 2014 at 06:30 PM
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Do you know any word that contains one of these consonants?

JapanesePod101.com Verified
July 15th, 2021 at 05:06 PM
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Paul Vincent Martin IIIさん


Thank you so much for your comment😄

You've got this👍 Please keep up the great work😉


Please let us know if you have any questions :)


Sincerely

Ryoma

Team JapanesePod101.com

Paul Vincent Martin III
July 7th, 2021 at 04:37 PM
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Fu is by far the most uncommon and most difficult for a native English speaker like myself. It's like saying "who" but with the lips making a shape for a "p" sound.

JapanesePod101.com Verified
June 13th, 2021 at 07:59 AM
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こんにちは Claudia,


You are very welcome. 😇

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

We wish you good luck with your language studies.


Kind regards,

レヴェンテ (Levente)

Team JapanesePod101.com

Claudia
June 12th, 2021 at 07:23 PM
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Thank you so very much for for solving my problem! ❤️️👍😄

ありがとうごさいます。

JapanesePod101.com Verified
June 11th, 2021 at 08:02 PM
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Jonathan Lamar Danielさん

Thank you so much for your comment😄

You've got this!! Please patiently keep practicing and you'll master them in no time👍


Claudiaさん

質問(しつもん)ありがとうございます😄

We don't pronounce it like "sto," so it should be "hi"😉

*ありがとうございます


Please let us know if you have any questions :)


Sincerely

Ryoma

Team JapanesePod101.com

Claudia
June 10th, 2021 at 08:21 PM
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My question is about the pronunciation of ひ (hi) in words like ひとびと (hitobito - people). I would pronounce this word hi-to-bi-to and that is precisely what I hear when I listen to a recording of the word slowed down to 0.5 speed. Then, something strange happens. I listen at normal speed (1.0) and my Western ears suddenly hear something like sto-bi-to like the English sto in story, or the German stu in Stuhl (chair). Is that just me or do other Western speakers hear that as well? I really want to learn the proper pronunciation of Japanese. This is not unique to the Japanese word hitobito as I have come across hearing it in other Japanese words as well. Would you kindly help me out with this?


ありがとがいざいます。

Jonathan Lamar Daniel
May 18th, 2021 at 04:57 PM
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ひ and へ where hard for me

JapanesePod101.com Verified
May 15th, 2021 at 02:11 PM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Hi Mike,


Thank you for posting!

I'm sorry for the late reply.


As for "tsu" sound, as you see in the video, the right position to pronounce it is

to touch the tip of your tongue to your alveolar of the upper teeth.

But it might be a difficult sound for some people.

And then we recommend to try to put the tip of your tongue to the back of your lower teeth

and sound like "su", then you can almost sound like "tsu."

This is just for a trial before doing the right way.

We are sorry for the confusion, but please give it a try😊


Thank you for learning Japanese with us:)


Sincerely,

Miho

Team JapanesePod101.com

Mike
February 25th, 2021 at 03:41 AM
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Hi there,


The TSU is hard to pronounce correctly and the video contradicts it's self a little, the video shows the tongue at the back of the top set teeth, then just after Yamamoto says to put your tongue on the back of your bottom teeth. I'm having a little trouble is there any thing you can suggest.


Kind regards,


Mike.

JapanesePod101.com Verified
January 7th, 2021 at 07:42 AM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

こんにちは ,


You are very very welcome. 😇❤️️ We were so happy to read your positive message!

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

We wish you good luck with your language studies.


Kind regards,

レヴェンテ (Levente)

Team JapanesePod101.com