How to differentiate 光, 米, 来, 半

Hello friends.

I am really struggling to differentiate between 光, 米, 来, and 半.

Does anybody have any tips or tricks? I keep getting them mixed up on WK and the explanations don’t seem to be sticking.

Thank you!


As in you can’t visually distinguish between them? Or you can’t remember the different meanings?

1- Try to identify the radicals in each kanji, they share some radicals between them but the combinations are different

2-Try to learn how to write them, while also remembering their stroke orders, this will add another layer of difference to them

3-Try to learn some words that use that kanji!


I’m at your same level right now so I know the pain. What works for me to distinguish them is to think of them in terms of their radicals: 光 is triceratops and pi, 来 is ground and rice, and so on. From then on, sheer repetition works (for me at least)


I have never had an issue with these personally. Any kanji I confuse with another is eventually sorted out though WaniKani SRS. I would also suggest the similar kanji script which shows similar kanji when doing reviews and will help you remember the difference.

be sure to get yourself ready for different meanings and reading and such stuff !!!
光 it is like seaside and sunset… sun is going up and you see its blurry image in sea. upper part is sun and lowerpart is its blurry image in sea
来 this is a train, on rails. it also means to come so, this is a train.
半 first, think of a cross with two middle strokes. then there are marks on the upper side, they are clearly pointing the upper half.

米 this is just rice.simple and plain :slight_smile:


Totally agree. Nothing beats learning to write from memory.

For all kanji you’re mixing up: break them up into radicals and learn to write. Then practice writing based on meaning.

If you are writing a kanji multiple times always cover up previous attempts. Otherwise, you’ll just be copying it, not really reproducing.


Crete a topic on WK forums, or ask in some thread… or sorry you’ve already did. :slight_smile:

These are common words, just not common for you probably (yet). Later they will be used multiple times in vocab.

Rice kanji 米 is so symmetrical, just imagine how the whole food industry in Japan is centered on rice, I think they have rice in everything (even if not true, work it into mnemonics). Any direction you turn, you see rice, rice, rice. You can rotate this kanji 90, 180, 270 degrees, and it will be the same (almost, but again, as long as it is mnemonics). You cannot escape rice in Japan.

Soon (level 7) there will be vocab 未来, which I found completely wonderful - the kanji are “not yet” + “come” - the word meaning is “future”, and it’s pronounced みらい.Not sure if you are a Naruto fun, Mirai is the daughter of Asuma and Kurenai, and that name helped me remember the vocab and both kanjis in it.

Another Naruto example is (sorry if this is irrelevant for you) is Hayate Gekkō who is a sick proctor on chunin examples. Gekkō is spelled as 月光 literally moonlight, level 5 vocab.

Also are you using leach training scripts? If not, check APIs and scripts forum section for that.

Good luck! I’ll bet in a month you’ll have new set of troublesome kanjis, and you will look at this post and be surprised how pleasant these four are. If not, call me on losing the bet :slight_smile:

1 Like

For me it’s 牛平半干午… I can never keep them straight.

光 is really easy for me… just like the mnemonic, you picture the road stretching out to the rising sun.


Also, say the meaning and reading(s) while writing them. That stimulates the audio part of your memory, which adds reinforcement.


I can remember the meanings - but when one comes up, I can’t remember which meaning is which.

Yeah. I read a thread here which pointed out that 牛 had a sticky up bit which was the cow’s horn, and that helped me differentiate between that and 午 which was really helpful!

Thanks a lot for your help and nice words!

This is really helpful, thank you! Just what I was after.

You don’t. It’s Japanese, so you just hope for the best. lol

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