With English, when writing and looking to mention a word (as a word vs wanting to use the word as its semantic referent), writers have at their disposal quotation marks (punctuational) and italicized font (typographical) with which to make clear their intention.

As examples:

The is the definite article of the English language.


'The' is the definite article of the English language.

both make clear, via typographic and punctuational devices respectively, that the first the they contain is being used differently and means something different than the two other instances of the that follow.

Is there anything (typographical or punctuational —as with English— or otherwise —I know Japanese often employs [平仮名]{ひらがな} marker words to indicate things that English would via typographical effects or punctuation) afforded to writers writing in Japanese which can be leveraged to similar effect?

I ask 'cause, as someone learning Japanese, much of what I write in Japanese is meta; I'm usually asking about Japanese itself —about vocab, aspects of grammar like particles, et cetera. As such, in terms of mention vs use, many parts of my writing are mention and I worry that, without some sort of annotation, the distinction may be less than clear.

Here's the Wikipedia article on use-mention distinction in English writing for reference.

1 Answer 1


「鉤【かぎ】括弧【かっこ】」 is probably what you're looking for. Example:


These are used like quotes in English.

There's also a doubled-up form that can be used if the text is already quoted.


  • 1
    Good answer, but it would be even better if you also mentioned katakana, which is also frequently used, similar to italics in English. You can find examples by searching Google Scholar for any common grammatical form in katakana.
    – user1478
    Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 19:52

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