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 a phonetic reperesentation 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 'I'll have tempura and pasta, please.' is written in :
Japanese Romaji :Watashi wa tenpura mo pasuta onegai shimasu. ;
Japanese traditional (Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji) : 私は天んぷらもパスタお願いします。; where Kanji = 私 (watashi = I), 天 (te), 願 (nega) ; Katakana = パスタ(pasuta = pasta) and the rest is Hiragana.
Japanese Hiragana and Katakana (without Kanji) : わたしはてんぷらもパスタおねがいします。 Note - The Kanjis in the sentence written in Japanese traditional, 私, 天 and 願 are replaced by their hiragana equivalents わたし, てand ねがrespectively.
Note : は(ha) is read (wa) only when it is used as the particle attached to the noun or the subject of a sentence. は(wa) is always used after the subject. In the example above, は(wa) comes after the subject Watashi わたし.
Kanji is sometimes written in combination with Hiragana. In the above example, tenpura (tempura) is written in Kanji as てんぷら and in Hiragana as 天ぷら. Similarly, onegai (please) is written in Kanji as お願い, and in Hiragana as おねがい.