Radicals are driving me crazy. Lid and Roof look so similar

I keep mistaking Lid and Roof for each other which is stopping me from getting roof to guru. How do you tell the difference when they are so similiar?


The difference is in the corners.

LID → 亠

ROOF → 宀

In this cases I like to put both kanji or radicals side by side and create some kind of mnemonic:

Imagine that you use the lid on a pot, so it sits smugly inside the pot. The roof has corners as to not let rain inside of your house. Or something like that !


My favourite ones were leaf and gun when I first started. I struggled with them a lot…


Specially for this “apparently” similar radicals or the Kanji derived from them watching them in different fonts will help a lot.

First WRITE them, even once, so you see the traces that make them.

Something like this script will help at seen them in different fonts right here on WK

In my case, I do the same, but in Anki.

And you can see how apparently very similar Kanji difering only in those radicals you mention, when writen in different fonts the differences are way clearer. This will become even more evident if you write them too, since you’ll be much more aware of the differences.

Here is 穴 and 六 … “similar” in this tiny view, and with the generic font.

Now different examples (focus specially in the bottom right fonts, since those tend to be much more bare bones an are a better example of what traces are considered important to identify the kanji even when simplified)

See how different they are?


I think it helps to see them in context. Roof appears in the KAN phonetic component.

警官 - keiKAN - police officer
映画館 - eigaKAN - cinema

As well as other KAN words:
完璧 - KANpeki - perfect

Also, I visualise the pot lid as just that - the line in the middle is the handle, and the flat part is a metal or glass lid. It’s flat, so it doesn’t have the little lines coming down on the left and right.

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yeah, but then the phonetic part it’s not roof on itself … for example there’s 絵文字 → emoji (with a roof radical too) :man_shrugging:.Though that’s a good strategy for guessing readings, once you become aware of some kanji been Keisei phonetic-semantic compounds (which also have a script here :wink:).

A roof has gutters to catch the rain (that’s what the things on the side are)


By failing over and over again until it somehow sticks

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True, it’s not the phonetic itself.

But I think I associate them together. 映画館 cinema was one of the first words I learned (I love movies!) so I have known that kanji for a long time.

And I think that the shape of the roof radical is echoed in the bottom part of KAN too -i.e. the 3 sides of a rectangle shape / sideways digital C.


It also helps that the 館 in eigaKAN means ‘public building’ - which is a strong association with the radical meaning of ‘roof’.

That script sounds great BTW, thanks. :grinning:

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I feel really stupid! I didn’t notice the little side pieces. This makes so much more sense now thank you!!! I thought they were both the exact same but one was slightly longer. I can do it now!


Yes! you can do it! 頑張って!

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