Yet again, I have managed to mix up 末 (すえ, end) and 未 (未だ = まだ, still) in reviews. This has happened enough now that I feel I need a mnemonic to remember the difference. I already have one involving the bit dangling down to differentiate 夫 (おっと, husband), though I imagine I can’t share it here since WK forums are meant to be PG-13…
So what mnemonics do you use to remember the difference between these two kanji? What about other pairs of similar kanji?
I’m Chinese and a Mandarin speaker. I did a quick look up of the origins of these two characters. And here is what I think you might find useful to memorize these two characters.
For 末 (すえ, end), originally, it comes from 木(tree), and we put a horizontal line at the top to mark the tip of a tree, which is the “the end”. Therefore, you could try to memorize it in this way. Since this word stresses the end, you should make the top horizontal line (tree top) as long as possible to stress the meaning of “end”.
For 未 (未だ = まだ, still). It also comes from 木(tree), but the upper horizontal line originally is used to mark the luxuriant growth of the tree. Try to think that the tree is “still” growing, and the top of the tree is quite small, and will grow larger in the future.
Hope you finds it useful.
Dang, I got ninja’d. I was gonna type the exact same thing haha
These are great mnemonics, thank you so much!
I didn’t know this origin, but my mnemonic follows a very similar logic! I see the two different length lines as creating an arrow or triangle. 末 is like ▽ which points downward, down makes me think of “bottom” which makes me think of “end” . 未 is like △ which points upward, which is open and unending, thus “still”.
As for other kanji that look very similar, well, I can’t really help xD
My tip is the following:
In 未 the first line is shorter than the second one, so there’s still room for a longer line.
that’s it lol. Somehow with that I’ve managed to burn them both.
Stuff like this is usually the biggest source of leeches for me. I use an anki deck where once I notice I’m confusing two characters a lot I put both on one side right next to each other, then their readings on the back. I make two cards, where the second has the order swapped, so I don’t just learn it based on which is on which side. I also do the same thing but with meanings on the back instead of reading (so 4 anki cards total). It’s worked great for me and I’ve noticed a significant decrease in the number of leeches. The other useful thing just to realize what I’m confusing stuff with is the Confusion Guesser addon.
My favorite “stupidly similar pair”
Don’t worry, こけら is basically only ever encountered as trivia with regard to their similarity.
Was this just a coincidence?
One way to think about it is by focusing less on the kanji in isolation and more on how they combine into words. You’re not likely to mix the kanji up when you see 未来 for example, since 末来 isn’t a word. If you’re worried more about WaniKani kanji reviews and/or seeing words you’ve never encountered before, more practice over time will help.
That said, if you want more help now, another way that might work is to look at these two kanji as phonetic components. 未 has a phonetic component み and 末 has a phonetic component まつ. That means they are both used in other kanji and (sometimes) give that kanji the same on’yomi reading. So if you can remember the reading for some other kanji with these components, it may help you remember 未 and 末 alone as well.
For 未, I find 味 (e.g. 意味, 趣味) is the most useful kanji to think about. It’s a common kanji (level 11 on WaniKani, so you’ll learn it soon) and is used in a lot of common words. There’s also 魅 (e.g. 魅力).
For 末, I feel like the choice is less obvious. You could go with 抹 (e.g. 抹茶), but relying on the above to remember that 未 is み and just thinking of 末 as “not 未” is also fine.
I didn’t know that about the kanji’s origin, that’s really interesting! Where do you find those? It’s something I wish this website taught more.
I failed one of these two kanji just today… I tried coming up with a mnemonic to map the readings to the character, since I have no trouble with those. It’s just difficult to differentiate them visually in isolation.
マツ has the first kana of マ行, so it’s 末, because the first line is longer, while ミ is the second one, and so the second line should be longer, like in 未. Just to be clear, I’m talking about あいうえお.
Two words aiding with the readings might be 週末 (weekend) and 未来 (future).
Let’s see if I still remember this in five months!
I just think about how the end of 末 is longer, which has been enough for me.
Ahahah, you’ve got me good lol
I thought I’d ask there since it didn’t seem to be a question that had been asked there.
Yeah I’m also team “the line at the end of 末 is longer” for those two and have never had a problem.
…However I do have a load I’m always inexplicably confusing, even though wanikani doesn’t list them as visually similar, and ONE DAY I will learn which radical is “sickle” and which is “grain”
One looks like “mirai”, the other one looks like “matsu”
No, seriously, the best remedy is exposure.
未来 and 週末 also help with meanings. Of course, each Kanji’s meaning becomes clear by knowing more vocabularies.
Nonetheless, I can easily see the differences between the two Kanji.
- I see 未 as a rocket, meaning that there is very far more to go, so needing a fast rocket. (The mnemonic must have been from WaniKani.) There are also 未だ, and a lot of 未～.
- I see 末 as a canopy of a fully grown tree, so becoming of the end. 末 also works in isolation, and also some ～末.
for 未, the top line is not yet as long as the lower line (still shorter)
末 is how long the line will be in the end (after it has grown).
Whenever I try to learn very similar things, I make a mnemonic exactly on that tiny difference (or some other kind of mnemonic).
For example, 牛 is cow because it has a (cow’s) horn at the top, other than 午.
My eye started twitching when I read this, getting PTSD. Another pair I keep getting wrong from time to time is 雲 (cloud) and 電 (electricity). For some reason my brain just refuses to acknowledge that bottom parts in those 2 aren’t the same. And to be honest, I have many more examples
the top line is what gives it away for me 末 is longer, so it looks finished (end), 未 is smaller, so it isn’t finished (not yet).
You can just Google 似てる漢字:
My favourite are these: