One letter monosyllabic Japanese words

The Japanese language is formed by ideograms, where each ideogram can have a meaning. This makes the Japanese language full of super short words that often have only one letter, syllable or sound.

The Japanese alphabet is not composed of conventional letters, but characters that form a sound, similar to Portuguese syllables. Each ideogram is usually also one of these sounds, or sometimes two or even three sounds (syllables). But most of the time it takes more than one ideogram to form a complete word.

The problem is that there are several Japanese words formed only by an ideogram or kanji, as the Japanese call it. In English we have something similar called monosyllables like “over there“,“at the" and "I“, But in Japanese it's more complicated because it's not a combination of two letters, but just one.

One letter Japanese monosyllable words

Things get even worse when we remember that there are few syllables in the Japanese language, and that there is no change in the pronunciation of these syllables like accents in English. These are some main Japanese language reasons to use ideograms.

In Japanese monosyllabic words are called tan-onsetsu [単音節]. 

Japanese words with a syllable

Below we present a list of Japanese words composed of a syllable or hiragana. Most of these words necessarily need an ideogram to make any sense. Then we will share an exclusive list of Japanese words composed only of AIUEO hiragana (あいうえお).

It may be that some of the words mentioned in this article are not commonly used alone, but only complement other words and expressions as a suffix or prefix. Since there are multiple readings in an ideogram, there may be different ways of using the word. 

Japanese words with literally one letter

There are Japanese words that are formed only with a vowel A, I, U, E or O. This can be even more complicated if we are reading a sentence without kanji or without being fully structured. See below for a list of Japanese words made up of just one letter (Roman character).

Stomach i
Cormorant (bird)u
Well (enough)i

I tried to put only ideograms that are usually used in isolation as a noun or word. If we look at all the ideograms that have a reading of only one syllable, this list would have no end.

Learning the words in this article is made easier by being just a hiragana or syllable. I hope this article has been of help to you reader. If you liked it, share it with friends and leave your comments.

Do you know other monosyllabic words in Japanese? If you know, share with us in the comments!

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