Katakana writing: SHI N SO TSU

I can deal with シ ン ソ ツ in a computer font but I want to be able to write them by hand too. and i am having a hard time getting it to a point that I am satsfied that I can keep everything distinct. here is the article I reference in the below image: https://www.livinglanguage.com/blog/2017/10/10/how-to-write-katakana-シ-ツ-ソ-ン/


One thing for distinguishing シ and ツ is that the strokes follow the general path of し (top left, to bottom left, to right) and つ (top left, to top right, to bottom left).



Sorry, bad joke. The site you linked, that’s the correct stroke order. As you’ve already noticed, シ and ン are more horizontal while ツ and ソ is more vertical. シ basically has an extra “dot” on ン while ツ has an extra “dot” on ソ.

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Aye, that’s the mnemonic I was taught.

In addition, ソ resembles the start of そ1 (stroke down, curve down), while ン resembles the end of ん (stroke across, curve up).

When I first saw this topic, I thought you were trying to write an actual word, like 新卒…

1 Well… the handwritten version, rather:

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I guess ノ isn’t quite as confusing with the others but it does look good in the mix





I’m proud to have advanced in Japanese enough that I don’t see them all as smiley faces! :mortar_board: :full_moon_with_face:


I’ve seen ン stylized as in the picture below sometimes.


Don’t think that much about the angles and vertical vs horizontal thing; actually all that is just a byproduct of the real difference between them: the stroke order.

Try writing them fast (or even, without taking the pen off the paper), and you will see that, naturally, the stroke order will lead to those shapes.


I can’t take a picture of my own handwritting right now; but found this image (here)

You can see, particularly for シ and ツ how the fast writing connecting the strokes lead to a given shape (slant, shape of the beginning and end of the big last stroke, etc)

EDIT2: I even learned here that the katakana and hiragana for those actually came from the same kanji! (「之」for「シ・し」and 「川」for「ツ・つ」); look at the pink background box at that page…


I always think of シ being a person falling going “SHI-” before hitting the ground.

I think of ン being a person falling with one arm out going "nnnnnnnnn! " as they fall (they hit the ground before “o” comes out).

I think of ソ as a person doing a fist pump. “SO what that you are falling? I don’t care”

I think if ツ as a person dancing. “Yeah, I pushed you. I pushed you. You can’t tsu me!” they exclaim while dancing


i love how you think


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Ah yes, the slash-n-dashes. My husband has earned a nickname because I got two of those mixed up!

Gonna add on that it’s the same for そ and ソ: they both came from 曾. (PS: if you’re using a Chinese font for the kanji, note that in Japanese, the bit below the two dots should be more like 田.) そ represents the two dots, followed by a line for the box in the centre, and finally by a little curl for the box at the bottom. ソ is just the two dots.

I can’t really share how I learnt to differentiate everything because I learnt the kana by learning their source kanji. I learnt Chinese while growing up and I’ve studied calligraphy, so stroke order has always been important to me. Here’s a possible mnemonic though:

You’ll notice that the final stroke for シ and ン (the first two) is an upward stroke that’s relatively straight and quite sharp at the end. What’s straight and sharp? A sword, right? What’s the sound a sword makes when it’s pulled out of its scabbard? I’ll quote masaru_nishiuchhi’s answer on HiNative: 「シュイーーーーン」. That’s basically SHI-----N. IDK, imagine a katana being drawn by a right-hander and being used to cut immediately as it comes out of its scabbard. That’s the way the cut will look: a diagonal cut from bottom left to top right. It’s easier to imagine if you watch some iaido videos. (I’m no expert though, so forgive me if I’m wrong about how the katana is drawn.)