Do you know the DIFFERENCE?

ソ & ン

First, let's look at the two kana in question:

ン (n) and ソ (so)

These two katakana are so similar, it makes you wonder what the ancient Japanese were thinking! They also kind of look like リ (ri).

Let's fix this problem once and for all with a few tips.

Tip #1: The small dash

1) The small dash for "so" points South (down). [Just remember this and you'll tell them apart!]
2) The small dash for "n" almost points North (up).

Tip #2: The Alignment

The dash in "so" is lower and lines up at top (almost). Also, the dash in the "n" is higher and lines up to the left

Tip #3: N Can't Start a Word

If you see one of these katakana start a word, it has to be "so" ソ.

"n" ン cannot start a word.

Also, while certainly not 100% of the time, if you see one of these katakana ending a word, it most likely will be "n" ン.


Tip #4: Different Stroke Order

The stroke order for the longer dash is different.

SO ソ starts at the top

N ン starts at the bottom


Nowadays, learning to write Japanese isn't as critical as it once was. How often do you hand-write English? But it is still good to know and to be able to do.

For these two tricky katakana, if you just remember the small dash points SOuth for SO, you should be all right.

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