I know that often, when rendering a long vowel in Katakana, a hyphen is used.

For example, the Katakana rendering of the English word "coat" is often shown as コート .

I have seen both "ko-to" and "kooto" as the Romaji rendering of this word, and I wonder: could コオト also be a correct Katakana rendering? ... or also maybe even コウト ?

This question isn't specfic only to コート . I know that there is more than one way to render long vowels in Katakana. I just want to know which is the preferred way to render these Katakana long vowels.


  • I read those, but since I wanted to know which forms are preferred, I thought I'd ask here, as well. But I guess there isn't any kind of official preference for the variations in how the katakana is rendered. So, I guess that with my "coat" example, コート and コオト can both be considered equally correct, and that it's just up to the person writing the words to choose what he or she prefers. Is that correct?
    – HippoMan
    Commented Sep 8, 2023 at 20:59
  • 4
    If you are writing standard Japanese, it's not a matter of preference; the only correct spelling is コート. If u r riting something nonstandard, it's up 2 u.
    – naruto
    Commented Sep 8, 2023 at 23:51
  • @naruto ur anser is clevah but u only fcus on da bad xmpl コート, giving the wrong impression that it's so easy with any word, while OP used it just as an example. They concern is still valid for other words such as プレイガイド/プレーガイド
    – jarmanso7
    Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 12:23

1 Answer 1


What I was taught ages ago, and what seems to be borne out by the things I've read and pored over through the years, modern katakana uses the 長音符【ちょうおんぷ】 (literally, "long sound mark") or 伸【の】ばし ("lengthener") to indicate long vowels. In horizontal text, this looks a bit like an em dash or even an ichi kanji , while in vertical text, it's a vertical line that is clearly distinct from a horizontal hyphen or ichi.

That said, there are special cases even in modern use where you might see something romanized as spelled in katakana as コウ, particularly certain dictionary publications that use katakana to spell out the on'yomi for kanji. And historically, starting (I think) from probably some time in the Meiji or Taishō eras and up until World War II, katakana was the standard kana form for regular official published texts -- not hiragana.

So in any modern context, for words like kōto, you will almost always see コート. You might rarely encounter コオト, but that's because the author is trying to be cute or stylistically distinct somehow, kinda like English nite. -- the "regular" way to spell it is with the 長音符. I don't think you'll ever see コウト, since this is a borrowed word that has never had an "u". (On'yomi with o + u in kana are pronounced nowadays as one long ō, but historically, these did actually have that u sound.)

  • 2
    +1, コオト is used only when eye dialect or some stylistic effect is clearly intended.
    – naruto
    Commented Sep 8, 2023 at 23:37
  • 1
    ありがとうございます to both of you. This indeed answers my question!
    – HippoMan
    Commented Sep 9, 2023 at 19:10

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