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I am having high confusion between katakana n and katakana so . They look very similar even with the different stroke directions, they look very similar. Could anyone suggest how to differentiate between them?

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up vote 18 down vote accepted

I think this image sums it up perfectly:

enter image description here

Basically, it has to do with the angle you're draw it from and where it goes. You'll see variations on the bigger stroke on the right, especially in hand writing, but this clears up 99% of instances for me.

Edit: source=http://ani-nouto.animeblogger.net/2012/08/11/guide-to-katakana-ri-so-n/

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This picture is helpful but be wary of stroke order! The big stroke will start from the side where it's aligned. – ssb Dec 26 '13 at 3:35

I do not know why my answer is so often different from others' on here but to me the best answer is "CONTEXT".

How useful is it that the two katakana look different in printed blocks? That kind of "knowledge" is not worth a yen when dealing with handwriting or even something printed. You are NOT going to see a ソ or ン blown-up all out of proportion so you could spot the difference.

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Japanese is to complicated at times: keep the explanation simple:

Here is my mnemonic ソthe line points 'south' for 'so' ンthe line points 'north' for 'n'

Like it?

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It's easy once you get the difference between シ (shi) and ツ (tsu) For these, it's easy to remember because of how the hiragana versions are written.

し is written from the top, to bottom, to right. And thus, the katakana version is written left to right, and has a more horizontal angle.

つ is written curving down, so ツ is also written top-to-bottom, being more vertically oriented.

The same thing goes for ソ and ン, except without the hiragana equivalents.

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