What is Pitch Accent? (Comparison 30)

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What is Pitch Accent?

English has a stress accent, which I have a hard time with.
Japanese has a pitch accent instead of a stress accent.

Since this varies from region to region within Japan, I’ll talk about what is used in broadcasts, known as standard Japanese. There are numerous words with the same pitch accent but completely different meanings. But in fact, Japanese people are not that aware of pitch accents and often infer words from context and situation. So, even if the pitch accent is a little wrong, the conversation can still be understood, it feels unnatural, though.


I think there are few teaching materials available.
I hope this video will be a useful addition to your teaching materials.

There are 4 types of pitch accent

Examples (The audio is available on YouTube)


I pronounced them in the above video!

あめ (Ame)
雨(あめ) : rain

雨が降る: have rainfall

明日は雨でしょう: it will rain tomorrow

飴(あめ) : candy

飴をなめる: lick candy

レモン味の飴: lemon-flavored candy

はな (Hana)
鼻(はな) : nose

鼻がかゆい: itchy nose

花(はな) : flower

花が咲く: flowers bloom

きる (Kiru)
着る(きる) : wear

着るものがない: there is nothing to wear

服を着る: wear clothes

切る(きる) : cut

切るものがない: there is nothing to cut

にんじんを切る: Cut carrots

なし (Nashi)
梨(なし) : pear

梨は高い: pears are expensive

おいしい梨: delicious pear

無し(なし) : without, zero

台無し: spoiled

悔い無し: without regret

あじ (Aji)
味(あじ) : flavor, taste

味付け: seasoning

味がする: have a taste for

鯵(あじ) : horse mackerel

鯵料理: horse mackerel dishes

にほん (Nihon)
日本(にほん) : Japan

日本人: Japanese people

日本の食べ物: Japanese food

二本(にほん) : two *long cylindrical things

二本ください: I’ll have two, please

木が二本ある: There are two trees

たかい (Takai)
高い(たかい) : high, expensive

高いビル: tall building

背が高い: tall (of a person)

他界(たかい) : passing away

他界した: passed away

いらい (Irai)
依頼(いらい) : request

お客様からの依頼: Customer requests

依頼を受ける: get a request

以来(いらい) : since

昨年以来: since last year

以外(いがい) : excepting, other than

明日以外なら空いています: I’m free except tomorrow

意外(いがい) : unexpected

意外な結果: surprising results

意外と強い: unexpectedly strong

いじょう (Ijou)
以上(いじょう) : the above, that’s all

以上です: that’s all

これ以上: more than this

異常(いじょう) : abnormal

異常なし: no abnormalities

異常が見つかる: abnormalities are found

こうかい (Koukai)
公開(こうかい) : open, public

公開される: published

近日公開: coming soon

後悔(こうかい) : regret

昨日のことで後悔する: I regret what I did yesterday

しょうがい (Shougai)
生涯(しょうがい) : lifetime

生涯にわたって: over the course of one’s lifetime

障害(しょうがい) : obstruction

障害が発生する: failures occur

電波障害: radio interference

ようい (Youi)
用意(ようい) : preparation

用意する: prepare

容易(ようい) : readily, ease

容易ではない: not easy

はいき (Haiki)
廃棄(はいき) : disposal

廃棄する: dispose

排気(はいき) : exhaust

排気ガス: exhaust gas

へいき (Heiki)
平気(へいき) : okay, unconcerned

平気です: I’m fine

兵器(へいき) : weapon

新兵器: a new weapon

きのう (Kinou)
昨日(きのう) : yesterday

昨日の夜: yesterday night

機能(きのう) : function

新機能: new function

機能性重視: focus on functionality

かえる (Kaeru)
帰る(かえる) : go back

家に帰る: go back home

帰ります: go back

帰らない: don’t back

変える(かえる) : change

髪型を変える: change one’s hairstyle

変えます: change

変えない: don’t change

蛙(かえる) : frog

カエル: frog

アマガエル: tree frog

When saying a different kind of frog, “ka” changes to “ga”.

かみ (Kami)
紙(かみ) : paper

紙を切る: cut paper

髪(かみ) : hear

髪を切る: cut hair

神(かみ) : god

神に祈る: pray to god

火の神: god of fire

はし (Hashi)
箸(はし) : chopsticks

箸を持つ: hold chopsticks 

菜箸: long chopsticks

橋(はし) : bridge

橋を渡る: cross a bridge

つり橋: suspension bridge

端(はし) : edge

端を持つ: have an edge

右端: right edge

はち (Hachi)
八(はち) : eight

八円: eight yen

八百 八個 八本etc. : When saying some kind of eight, “ha” changes to “はっ”.

鉢(はち) : bowl, pot

植木鉢 flower pot

When saying a different kind of bowl or pot, “ha” changes to “ba”.

蜂(はち) : bee
あき (Aki)
秋(あき) : autumn, fall

秋が来る: autumn is coming

空き(あき) : vacant, space

空きがある: have a vacancy

空き缶: empty can

飽き(あき) : satiation

飽きる: get bored

飽きない: do not get bored

飽きた: bored

かき (Kaki)
柿(かき) : persimmon

柿を食べる: eat persimmons

牡蠣(かき) : oyster

牡蠣を食べる: eat oysters

生ガキ: raw oysters

When saying a different kind of oyster, “ka” changes to “ga”.

夏期(かき) : summer term

夏期休暇: summer vacation

さす (Sasu)
指す(さす) : point, indicate

北を指す: point to the north

差す(さす) : lift, raise

傘を差す: hold an umbrella

刺す(さす) : stick, sting

串を刺す: skewer

まつ (Matsu)
松(まつ) : pine tree

松の木: pine tree

かどまつ: new year’s pine decoration

末(まつ) : end of…

週末: weekend

月末: end of the month 

年末: end of year

待つ(まつ) : wait

待つ: wait

待ちます: wait

待たない: don’t wait

こうえん (Kouen)
公園(こうえん) : park

公園に行く: go to the park

運動公園: playfield park

講演(こうえん) : lecture

講演をする: give a speech

後援(こうえん) : help, support

後援会: supporters” association

きち (Kichi)
吉(きち) : good fortune

今日の運勢は吉だ: Today’s fortune is good

基地(きち) : military base

基地の建設予定地: proposed construction site of the base

米軍基地: American military base

既知(きち) : already known

既知の事実: known fact

きげん (Kigen)
期限(きげん) : deadline, term

期限が切れる: expire a term

期限切れの: expired

起源(きげん) : origin

日本の起源: Origins of Japan

機嫌(きげん) : mood, humor

機嫌が良い: in a good mood

機嫌をとる: put in a good mood

検討(けんとう) : consideration

検討中: under consideration

見当(けんとう) : conjecture, guess

見当がつかない: having not the slightest idea

健闘(けんとう) : good fight

健闘した: put up a good fight

かく (Kaku)
各(かく) : every…

各駅停車: a train that stops at every station

各駅に停車する: stops at every station

書く(かく) : write

書く: write

書きます: write(polite)

書かない: don’t write

核(かく) : core

核となる技術: core technologies

格(かく) : ranking

品格: dignity

格が違う: be of a different status

こうしょう (Koushou)
交渉(こうしょう) : negotiation

交渉する: negotiate

公称(こうしょう) : nominal, official

公称値: nominal value

高尚(こうしょう) : noble, lofty

高尚な趣味: noble hobby

校章(こうしょう) : school emblem

校章を付ける: wear a school badge

Kosho is the word with the most homonyms, with 48 in total, but the others are used so infrequently that only a language geek would know the meaning of all of them, even among Japanese.