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.
Katakana is used for transcription of words borrowed from foreign languages(except Chinese), like country names, personal names, etc.
Both Hiragana and Katakana letters are phonetic representations 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 'Won't you have a pineapple with me?' is written in :
Japanese Romaji : Watashi to painappuru o tabemasen ka? ;
Japanese traditional (Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji) : 私とパイナップルを 食べませんか。; where Kanji = 私(watashi = I, me) 食 (ta) ; Katakana = パイナップル(painappuru = pineapple) and the rest is Hiragana. Note that the question mark ? is omitted.
Japanese Hiragana and Katakana (without Kanji) : わたしとパイナップルを たべませんか。 Note - The Kanjis in the sentence written in Japanese traditional, 私and 食 are replaced by their hiragana equivalents わたし(watashi) andた(ta) respectively.
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 painappuru パイナップル(pineapple) and before the verb tabemasen (not eat).
Kanji is sometimes written in combination with Hiragana. In the above example tabemasen (will not eat) is written in Kanji as 食べません and in Hiragana as たべません.