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I'm trying to understand when I should leave blanks (spaces) between Japanese words when using either kana or kanji.

My understanding is that blanks should be left when otherwise the text is confusing. This means that you can avoid blanks when you have a kanji followed by a particle, like in this sentence:

何時までですか。

which means "Until when is it open?" (Correct me if I'm wrong.)

Above we can see that there is no space between 何時 and まで, because the former is kanji so it's 'clear' that まで acts as a particle.

However, what happens with the last ですか? It seems to me that までですか could be confusing, so I wonder if 何時まで ですか would be better.

Questions:

  • Are there any formal rules that can be followed with regards to this question?

  • In any case, is it a big deal if you leave 'too many' spaces in a text? In other words, if you are not sure, is it better to leave a blank or to avoid it?

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    With some exceptions, Japanese text generally does not have spaces. Did you see something suggesting use of spaces?
    – Leebo
    Jul 9 at 10:55
  • In the book 'japanese for busy people' (kana version, meaning that all dialogues are written in hiragana) they leave spaces between words. In addition, I have seen on the internet that expressions like arigatou gozaimasu have indeed a space between the two words. I associate this to the fact that they are written in hiragana only.
    – Martel
    Jul 9 at 10:58
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    The exceptions I mentioned include text aimed at beginners learning Japanese, and text written 100% in kana (not just a few kana in a row), usually because it's aimed at very small children or for technical reasons. Japanese text aimed at literate readers of elementary school and beyond doesn't have spaces.
    – Leebo
    Jul 9 at 11:09
  • JBP stops using those spaces in III.
    – aguijonazo
    Jul 9 at 15:46
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Afaik, we don't use spaces in any sentence, except at the beginning of a paragraph (However, this use is only seen in novels, textbooks, news articles, and newspapers).

Instead, we use punctuation marks (句読点 | I know the English language has them too). I don't think 何時までですか would use 句読点, though.

As for the comment of yours, it's very likely that such spaces are left to make it easier for children and Japanese learners to understand.

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