May 10, 2023

These are Different Japanese Words: きて・きって・きいて

Today, let get the "postage stamp, cut, come, wear, and listen" problem out of the way once and for all.

You know, words that sound very similar but differ due to a small っ or 長音(ちょうおん) (long vowels in Japanese).

In English, we sometimes lengthen syllables or shorten them for emphasis or impact.

But to the Japanese ear, however, these are totally different words.

In the upcoming June issue of Makoto, we play with this in the beginner story regarding the words:

湿気(しっけ) (humidity) and 死刑(しけい) (death penalty)

Yes, those are different words even if the English speaker finds them frustratingly similar.

Back to today's lesson. Here are the words we'll cover. Listen to the sound files and see if you can tell the difference.


These words have two mora (beats) "ki" + "te"






These words have a small っ (like a hiccup between sounds that lasts one mora (beat) for a total of 3 moras): "ki" + "..." + "te"


postage stamp




This word has a long vowel (長音(ちょうおん)) that is three mora long: "ki" + "i" + "te"


(or ()いて when listening to music) listen

Do you hear the difference? I'm sure you do with them neatly labelled like this, but maybe you have trouble when hearing them in the wild.

Sentence Practice

Listen to the following sentences. Try to figure out which it is (きて、きって、きいて) without looking above, and then toggle to see the answer.

Practice 1


Practice 2


Practice 3


Practice 4


Practice 5


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