Spanish is my mother tongue and I almost can't differentiate じょ and よ sounds. Maybe the same thing happens to English native speakers. How do you solve that problem in English... is there a common English word that uses the sound じょ and another that uses the sound よ?

  • 2
    I almost can't differentiate じょ and よ sounds. - You mean when you're speaking, correct? Not when listening?
    – istrasci
    Apr 26, 2013 at 14:22
  • for english speakers jo (じょ)and yo (よ)are quite different. We often struggle with the extended う (eg じょ vs じょう). I think the Chinese struggle with し because they often pronounce it "si" but not being Chinese (Cantonese?) won't swear to this. This sounds similar to the trouble English speakers have with the spanish name Julio (which, to our ears,you pronounce "Hulio" ?)
    – Tim
    Apr 26, 2013 at 18:39
  • @istrasci when speaking and listening. Well, with all these tips I can improve my pronunciation, but I still will have a hard time listening and differentiating those two sounds.
    – Mig
    Apr 26, 2013 at 18:53
  • 1
    @Tim: I've also heard Chinese struggle a lot with , often pronouncing it as ちゅ.
    – istrasci
    Apr 26, 2013 at 19:14
  • Useful for pronunciation: youtube.com/watch?v=O-3opZIjwr0
    – AJF
    May 24, 2015 at 6:31

1 Answer 1


For equivalent English sounds, you can find the Japanese じょ sound in certain names and words:

  • Joe
  • Joad
  • joke

You can also find the Japanese よ sound in certain words:

  • yo-yo
  • yo (slang)

Here is an example of a phrase in Japanese that uses longer forms for each of the sounds じょ and よ on this website: JOUYOU KANJI

On that page is an audio recording of someone named "akitomo" speaking a phrase that includes both the じょ and the よ sounds: "JOUYOU KANJI". (In that recorded phrase, can you hear the difference between the first part "JOU" and the second part "YOU"?)

As your native language is Spanish, you could almost think of Brazilian Portuguese pronunciation for (at least some cases of) the letter "j" when it comes to pronouncing the じょ sound, as well. Do keep in mind, however, that the Brazilian Portuguese pronunciation might be slightly different (i.e. more of a softer "j" sound) than the Japanese pronunciation of じょ.

  • 1
    (And, of course, it is implicit that native speakers of do not have problems distinguishing between the two sounds.)
    – Zhen Lin
    Apr 26, 2013 at 6:48
  • 3
    what exactly is Joad?
    – ssb
    Apr 26, 2013 at 9:11
  • 1
    @ssb Joad is a surname. (As in Tom Joad from The Grapes of Wrath.)
    – summea
    Apr 26, 2013 at 16:25

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