Can someone explain 末 (まつ) vs 未 (み)? How are they the same radical but different kanji?

I’m a little confused about 末 (まつ) vs 未 (み). Wanikani says they are the same radical, but they are different kanji. How does this happen? Is this radical analysis subjective? Like do others interpret these kanji as being made of different radicals? Are there a lot of kanji made from the same radical(s) but where just one is a different length?


The true radical for まつ is 木 or tree. Same for み.You have every right to be confused.

I can’t think of others that are this bad other than 士(し) and 土(ど)


It’s hard to see but the top bar is longer for one of them. The radicals are different too, Tree level 1 VS Jet level 6


More generally, not all of the things WK calls “radicals” are radicals in the traditional sense. Heisig’s Remembering The Kanji calls this kind of “bit of a kanji that we want to give a name to” a ‘primitive’, and I like that better because it makes it clearer that it’s part of the mnemonic system rather than necessarily anything with a real meaning based in the etymology of the characters or traditional radical analysis.


Yeah, WaniKani definitely subscribes to the “eh, close enough” school of thought when it comes to radicals. If a kanji looks like it contains one of the radicals when you squint, then it contains one of the radicals. For example, 易 being treated as equivalent to 昜.

干 and 千 differ by the angle of the top line (and also the direction you draw the stroke when it’s handwritten), but fortunately in this instance they’re separate radicals on WaniKani.

There’s also 日 and 曰, but the latter isn’t too common, and isn’t taught by WaniKani.


One consequence of this is that if you care about writing the kanji rather than just reading them, you might want to consider mnemonics tweaks so you have a hook to remember which of two very similar forms of a WK radical a particular kanji is using. If you’re just learning to read, it doesn’t matter so much.


I can see the difference, but WaniKani lists them as being the same radical. It doesn’t say 末 (まつ) uses tree, it says it’s jet just like 未(み). See the screenshot below.

Is the WaniKani radical analysis of 末 just wrong?


What WK says about 末 is “This kanji uses a modified jet radical.” – note the ‘modified’.

This isn’t “wrong” because WK is not trying to teach you traditional radicals or kanji etymology. It’s just trying to give you a system for breaking down the kanji into pieces with helpful names so you can remember them, and in that context there’s no wrong or right, only whether the choices made in breaking down the kanji are more or less helpful.

Personally I prefer to keep these two shapes more clearly distinct rather than saying one is a modified form of the other, but any system that tries to deal with 2000+ characters is going to have some rough edges.

The important thing here I think is that you can recognise the difference between the two kanji 末 and 未 and know which is which.


Yah, what @Akashelia meant was that in official listings, both kanji are identified by the tree radical.

Not wrong, WaniKani just uses its own system. They’re more mnemonic components rather than radicals, though some of them happen to also be on the list of official radicals.


It may be wrong in a way, that 末 might be made a new “radical” (Kanji part) in order to distinguish Kanji better, but WK chose not to, insisting on using 未 for Kanjis that use longer strokes.

Some radicals (parts) that might matter include 夂 / 攵 and ネ / 衤.

This too – 昜 - Wiktionary, the free dictionary. I have never noticed this one :exclamation: (Well, not a traditional radical. Not that 末 is one.)

I would consider a better reference in this aspect.


These are fundamentally different radicals, fortunately. By WaniKani definition and in the traditional sense.

From a meta perspective they would also appear in different words so the chances of actually mixing them up are fairly slim.