The Dummies Guide to Converting Japanese Letters on Your Windows 7 or 8 PC

Alphabet

This post is a follow up to “The Dummies Guide to Typing Japanese Letters on Your Windows 7 or 8 PC”.

Previously, you learned about how to install Japanese input and how to type Japanese letters on your PC. Today in this tutorial, we are going one step further.

You will learn how to convert Japanese letters as you type. What do I mean?

When you type in Japanese, smart as the Input Method Editor is, it does not always give you the word that you want. So how can you fix it?     

Changing the Focus Phrase to Open a New Candidate List

In Microsoft IME, the range of words within a phrase which can be converted is called a “phrase boundary“.

After the initial conversion of a word or a phrase, the phrase boundary can be changed to fix a conversion of a specific word within a phrase.   

Below, you will see how the initial conversion result of “虫を取る” is fixed to “虫を捕る”.

In the example, the bold underline indicates the focus phrase for which the candidate list will appear. The fine underline indicates the total range of conversion being carried out.

Note: If you have the auto-tuning feature of IME turned on, the conversion results described below may appear differently on your computer.

1. Type “むしをとる” and press the SPACE Key. The phrase is converted to “虫を取る”, and a bold underline appears under “虫を”.

CJL1

2. Press the (right arrow) key to move the bold underline to “取る”.

CJL2

3. Press the SPACE key again to open the candidate list.

CJL3

4. Scroll down using the SPACE or key to select the candidate “捕る”.

CJL4

5. Press the ENTER key. The text is now converted to “虫を捕る”.

Changing the Length of a Phrase Boundary

After converting, if your desired word is not listed in the candidate list, you can change the length of a phrase boundary to expand the candidate choices. Let’s illustrate with two examples.

Note: If the auto-tuning function is enabled on your computer, the results in the examples below may differ.

Example 1

In the first example, the phrase boundary length is expanded to change “ここで履物を脱ぐ” to “ここでは着物を脱ぐ”.

1. Enter the reading “ここではきものをぬぐ”. Press the SPACE key to convert the reading. The reading is converted to “ここで履物を脱ぐ”, and a bold underline appears on “ここで”.

CJL5

2. Hold down the SHIFT key and press the key once, then select “ここでは”. The phrase position changes.

CJL6b

3. Press the key again to shift the focus phrase to “きもの”.

CJL7

4. Press the SPACE key to open the candidate list. Scroll down using the the SPACE or key to select the candidate “着物”.

CJL8

5. Press the ENTER key. The text is now converted to “ここでは着物を脱ぐ”.

Example 2

In the second example, the phrase boundary length is shortened to change “今日は医者に行く” to “今日歯医者に行く”.

1. Enter the reading “きょうはいしゃにいく”. Press the SPACE key to convert the reading. The reading is converted to “今日は医者に行く”, and a bold underline appears on “今日は”.

CJL9

Sales Page

2. Hold down the SHIFT key and press the key once, then select “きょう”.

CJL10b

3. Press the SPACE key to open the candidate list. Scroll down using the the SPACE or key to select the candidate “今日”.

CJL11

4. Next, press the key to shift the focus phrase to “は”.

CJL12

5. Press the SPACE key to open the candidate list. Scroll down using the the SPACE or key to select the candidate “歯”.

CJL13

6. Press the ENTER key. The text is now converted to “今日歯医者に行く”.

Expanding the Candidate List

If you still cannot find the word you want with the previous two steps, you can expand the candidate list. An expanded candidate list will make it easier to find the desired candidate.

You can follow the steps below to expand the candidate list.

1. Display the candidate list.

CJL14

2. Click CJL15 or press the TAB key.

CJL16

3. Select the candidate you want.

To restore the candidate list to its original size, click CJL17 or press the TAB key again.

Changing the Order of How Candidates Appear in the Candidate List

In the candidate list, the most commonly entered candidates are ordered and shown at first.

When candidates contain similar kanji, for instance in the case of personal names, you can choose to sort candidates by auto-tuning order or by kanji order.

What is Auto-tuning?

Auto-tuning places the conversion candidate or phrase boundary used previously as the first option in the candidate list. This makes it easy to input frequently used kanji and other characters.

How to Sort the Candidates?

To sort the candidates, click CJL18 in the candidate list, or press the CJL19 key, then select Sort.

Candidates are sorted in auto-tuning order if the Sort check box is selected, and in kanji order otherwise.

CJL20

Changing the Text After Conversion

Sometimes, you may want to change the conversion of a text after it has been converted. If so, you can use the following keyboard hacks. If you want to:

Restore the focus phrase to the original hiragana/katakana reading

Press the ESC key.

Restore the entire word/phrase to the original hiragana/katakana reading

Hold down the SHIFT key and press the ESC key.

Delete the characters being converted

Press the ESC key.

Move the character cursor to the left or right

Press the  and  arrow keys.

Delete the character to the left of the character cursor

Press the BACKSPACE key.

Delete the character to the right of the character cursor

Press the DEL key.

Sales Page

Switch to Candidate List of Different Phrase

When the candidate list appears when converting, use the following keys to switch to a candidate list of a different phrase. 

Switch to the candidate list for the first phrase

Hold down the CTRL key and press the ← key.

Switch to the candidate list for the final phrase

Hold down the CTRL key and press the key.

Note: The actual keys used are dependent on the selected Key template. The keys described above are used when the Microsoft IME key template is selected.

Finalizing Conversions

You can use the following keyboard hacks to finalize conversions:

Finalize the conversion for the entire word/phrase entered

Press the ENTER key.

Finalize the conversion for the first phrase

Hold down the SHIFT key and press the key.

Finalize the conversion for the currently selected phrase and all of the preceding phrase positions.

Hold down the CTRL key and press the key.

Finalize the conversion for the focus phrase.

Hold down the CTRL key and press the N or  key.

Other Ways to Finalize Conversions

  • If you start typing another reading after converting a word/phrase, the conversion for that word/phrase is finalized.
  • If the Finalize when moving focus to another phrase check box is selected in the Conversion tab inside the Properties for Microsoft IME dialog box, the current phrase is finalized when you move the focus to another phrase.

CJL21

CJL22

Note: The actual keys used are dependent on the selected Key template. The keys described above are effective when the Microsoft IME key template is selected.

Romaji Conversion During Alphanumeric Input

The final hack is for those of you who do lots of mixed Japanese and English input.

When you are in Full-width or Half-width Alphanumeric mode, you can convert a reading to kanji in the same way as in Romaji mode.

This means you can input kanji and other Japanese characters during alphanumeric input. All you need to do is:

1. On the IME toolbar, click Properties.

CJL21

2. This opens the Properties for Microsoft IME dialog box. Click the Mixed Japanese/English tab. Select the Allow conversion in Alphanumeric input mode check box.

CJL23b

3. If the following confirmation message, appears, select Yes.

CJL24

4. When you are finished, click OK.

Set Up Your SPACE Key Correctly

  • To use the SPACE key for conversion, in the Mixed Japanese/English tab inside the Properties for Microsoft IME dialog box, clear the Use space key to insert spaces in Alphanumeric input mode check box.
  • To use the SPACE key to input spaces, select the Use space key to insert spaces in Alphanumeric input mode check box.

CJL25

Conclusion

Phew, great job! You made it till the end of this tutorial! I hope this tutorial helped you to master how to convert Japanese letters successfully.

Now you can play our popular hiragana games and katakana games without any difficulties. Don’t worry if you can’t remember everything. You can always bookmark this page and come back to it later.

Remember the 80-20 Pareto principle? As you practise typing Japanese letters, you will find yourself using certain keyboard shortcuts more than others.

There’s more than one way to skin a cat. As long as you find a way that works for you, this tutorial has served its purpose. Good luck and ganbatte on your journey to learning Japanese!