I came across the sentence 混乱する気持ちもよーくわかる in my manga. I have translated it, but the use of the dash (which was vertical in the actual vertical text) stumped me for a bit (I thought it was よう at first, not よお). I was under the impression that a dash like that is only used in katakana, and in hirigana they use the character of the sound they want to extend. But that's not the case here.

So what does it mean when this happens? Is is a special case or exception, or is there some rule?

By the way, I ended up with よーくわかる all together meaning "I know you..." (thanks, Google Translate, for being more useful than a dictionary for once), which seems to be right in this context (In this case, "I know you're feeling confused"). That's why I think it might be a special case. (Searching よお on it's own ended up with "trouble brought on by sins of forebears"...)

  • The name of this character is 長音符.
    – user458
    Commented Aug 29, 2011 at 2:46

3 Answers 3


In Katakana, we use ー for some long vowels indeed. But words with it, like ユーロ are spelt this way!

However, in your case, there is no such word よーく、 ようく nor よおく. What this dash means is that the sound is lengthened. The word is just "よく". So, when the author wrote "よーくわかる" he meant "I reaaaaally understand".

That's it!

  • 9
    I agreeeeeed! On the same note, is it the same for the usage of ~ at the end of an exclamation, e.g. だめ~!
    – Lukman
    Commented Aug 12, 2011 at 4:31
  • Ah, that makes more sense. I thought that didn't happen much in Japanese, because the fewer sounds make it more likely you'll bump into another word. But now that I think about it, you can work out which word from the context. Thanks. Commented Aug 12, 2011 at 4:41
  • 7
    Sometimes authors will also use small vowel kana (ぁぃぅぇぉァィゥェォ) to indicate that the sound is being lengthened.
    – sartak
    Commented Aug 12, 2011 at 5:46
  • 1
    @AlbeyAmakiir: In sawa’s comment, oo and ee mean the オー and エー sounds, not the oo and ee sounds in English. Commented Aug 14, 2011 at 12:48
  • 2
    @Axioplase Btw what's the difference between and ?
    – Pacerier
    Commented May 29, 2012 at 6:38

I understand, In Japanese, the long dash (ー) means the sound is lengthened, just as Axioplase said. Like this:

ビール (beer)

ケーキ (cake)
Sometimes, when writing in Romaji, (the English style of writing Japanese), the 'dash' is substituted with the letter and a small line over it. Like this:



  • 1
    You'd written appeal instead of beer, and used the wrong character for the length mark.
    – Angelos
    Commented May 24, 2015 at 11:23
  • @Yuuwa And you've written beat instead of beer...
    – Earthliŋ
    Commented May 24, 2015 at 12:05
  • What you wrote applies only to katakana. Please see the other answer for the difference to hiragana in the use of the dash.
    – user22041
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 1:55

Japanese call cellphones Kei Tai Denwa (literally portable phone) but they don't use the kanji for keitai 携帯, they don't use the hiragana, けいたい, they use katakana ケータイ, which uses a hyphen when clearly it should use ケイタイ.

It just makes it look cool and international to use it like that.

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