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Japanese Punctuation Marks

edited March 2018 in Japanese
The punctuation marks commonly used in Japanese are 1) period, 2) comma, 3) quotation marks, 4) wave dash, 5) single dot, and 6) three dot leader. There is no n-dash, m-dash, colon, or semicolon in Japanese.

Today, we will look at the Japanese period, comma, and quotation marks.

1. Period

The Japanese period is called くてん kuten (formal) or まるmaru (informal). It's a small circle, and is used to mark the end of a sentence. It also marks the end of a question, instead of a question mark.

2. Comma

The Japanese comma is called とうてん tooten (formal) or てん ten (informal). Rules for the use of the Japanese comma are relatively loose. They may be placed wherever a natural break in the sentence might occur. An example of a common place you’d see a comma is right after a subordinate clause (such as a when clause and a while clause). You should keep in mind that the Japanese comma should not be placed immediately before a particle or conjunction.

3. Quotation marks 
「 」
The Japanese quotation marks are called かぎかっこ kagikakko. They are placed to the upper left of the first character and lower right of the last character in horizontal writing. Just like in English writing, Japanese quotation marks are used for quoting a word/phrase/sentence, and also for highlighting a word/phrase to attract special attention.


  • edited March 2018
    Here are three more Japanese punctuation marks:

    4. 波線 namisen Wave Dash

    波線 Namisen is mainly used to indicate duration such as five o’clock to seven o’clock or Monday through Friday. This usage corresponds to the English en dash (-). When you read 波線 namisen aloud in this usage, you’ll say から kara, which means "from". 波線 Namisen is also used to indicate ellipses. This usage is often seen in Japanese language text books where new verbs are introduced together with appropriate particles to be used with. This usage corresponds to the English ellipses mark “…”.
    5:00~7:00    goji kara shichiji     5:00-7:00
    月~金           gesu kara kin          Mon-Fri
    ~を食べます    ~o tabemasu      to eat…
    ~に行きます    ~ni ikimasu        to go to…

    5. 中点 nakaten Single Dot

    中点 Nakaten is used to indicate a break in foreign names and phrases. Mostly commonly it is placed between the first name and the last name written in katakana. A single dot is also used when listing items, to show options, for example. This usage corresponds to the English slash "/".  

    ジョン・スミス    Jon Sumisu     John Smith
    はい・いいえ        Hai Iie               Yes/No

    6. 三点リーダー  santen riidaa Three-dot Leader
    Just as 波線 namisen, 三点リーダー santen riidaa indicates ellipses. Additionally, it is used to indicate a special type of ellipses, suggesting unfinished thoughts or leaving readers to guess what is implied. This usage is observed with English ellipses as well.

    そう言ったけれど・・・。 Sou itta keredo...      I said so but...

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