There are 3 Japanese scripts : Hiragana, Katakana & Kanji. Mostof the Japanese sentences are written in Hiragana, Katakana & Kanji, all three.
Hiragana is used for the endings of verbs and for grammatical particles.
Katakanais used for transcription of words borrowed from foreign languages(except Chinese), like country names, personal names, etc.
Both Hiragana and Katakana letters are phonetic reperesentations of sound, representing exactly the same set of sounds.
Kanji, which is a set of Chinese characters called sinograms, is used for the nouns and the radicals of verbs.
The Hiragana script has a Kanji equivalent (excepts the endings of verbs and the particles).
The Katakana script does not have a Kanji equivalent.
Whereas Hiragana and Katakana are phonetic representations of sound, Kanji conveys sounds as well as meanings.
A sentence in Japanese can be written in Hiragana and Katakana only (without Kanji).
Romaji (Roman letters) is simply the transliteration of Japanese in the Latin script. It is sometimes used for the convenience of foreigners, mostly on sign-boards and at stations.
The Romaji vowelsā,ī, ū,ē signify emphasis, and hence are also written asaa, ii, uuetee. ex.īe = iie
The vowel ō becomes ou and notooex. gakkō = gakkou
In Katakana, the emphasis on the vowel signifies a long sound written as ー. ex.nōto (notebook), will be written in katakana as : ノート
Example. The sentence 'Let's have a cup of coffee' is written in :
Japanese Romaji :kōhī o ippai nomimashō ;
Japanese traditional (Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji) : コーヒーをいっぱい 飲みましょう。; where Kanji = 飲(みます) (nomimasu = to drink) ; Katakana = コーヒー(kōhī = coffee) and the rest is Hiragana.
Japanese Hiragana and Katakana (without Kanji) : コーヒーをいっぱい のみましょう。 Note - The Kanji in the sentence written in Japanese traditional, 飲 is replaced by its hiragana equivalent の.
Note : を(o) is used as the particle in a sentence to indicate the direct object of a transitive verb. を(o) is always used after the object and before the verb. In the example above, を(o)comes after the object kōhī コーヒー (coffee) and before the verb nomimashō (drink).
Kanji is sometimes written in combination with Hiragana. In the above example nomimashō (let's drink) is written in Kanji as 飲みましょう, in Hiragana as のみましょう. Note the の (no) in Kanji.