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Wondering what the difference between two characters is

zxuiji

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Editing descriptions of kana in my copy of the kanji study app to more unique names at the start to make it easier to remember, currently doing 了 which says "finsh, complete" but 終 also carries that as it's primary meaning, what's the difference between the 2? About to start work btw so will probably not respond until 2mw
 

nice gaijin

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I don't quite understand what you mean about your kana description, but it's important to know that while it's good to know the individual meaning of kanji, it's far more important to know how they're used, and what common compound words they show up in.

了 is very common in Chinese, because it's used to mark certain grammar structures, like past tense and imminent actions. In Japanese, I don't think you'd ever see this character used by itself, and it doesn't even have kunyomi, so it's only used as part of a kanji compound. A common one I like to use (kinda jokingly) is the semi-military term 了解, "understood," which is used to affirm orders.

終 does have kunyomi and can be used on its own: 終わり. This is a common word for "ending," and many times you'll see 終 by itself at the end of an old movie or something, and it would be read the same: owari. It's also used in a lot of other compounds and is way more common (jisho.org has 133 hits for this character compared to 22 for 了).

One of those compounds is actually 終了 which has more or less the same meaning as 終わり, but again, it's more important how it's used. The more you read, watch, and consume things in Japanese, the better a grip you'll have on these characters and how they're used.
 

Buntaro

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In Japanese, the kanji 了 is usually not used as a single kanji representing a single word, it is usually used only in two-kanji combinations (which represent a single word). Take a look at the 了page on the Weblio website.


In the middle of the page you will see 完了 and了解, both examples of 了in two-kanji combinations. Note that 了does not appear as a single-kanji word on the Weblio webpage.

For example, when an American military airplane pilot talks on the radio, they sometimes say, “Roger.” The word for “Roger” in Japanese is 了解 (りょうかい).
 

zxuiji

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thx both of you, nice gaijin seems to have roughly understood what I was looking for, though I can't use "understood" as that already has a proper kanji, basically I'm using menomics (I think thats what they're called) for memorizing how to write the more complicated kanji (standard modules are ill thought out so now I'm using custom groups based on numbet of strokes) and having multiple radicals and kanji with the same meaning is hampering that so I wanted to be a bit more specific with the descriptions when possible
 

nice gaijin

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Am I understanding correctly that you're making your own study materials? If it makes sense to you that's cool, but I think 了 is the perfect example of why you can't just assign a single mnemonic device to a character and ignore its practical use and how it works in context, if only because it never appears on its own and thus has no individual meaning in Japanese.

If you really want to learn kanji, I don't recommend trying to learn them individually in a vacuum. Learn what common words they appear in, and learn them alongside the other kanji they pair with. You'll make more connections that way, which will make your understanding of each character and its use that much stronger.

When I hear a new word and I want to find out what the word means/how it's written, I'll ask about the kanji by referencing other kanji compounds with similar sounding characters. This reinforces my understanding of all the kanji involved by making connections between words that share them.

For example, say しゅうでん comes up in a sentence:

A:「しゅうでん」の「しゅう」は何の「しゅう」ですか?「修理」の「修」ですか?
B:いいえ、「終了」の「終」で、「電車」の「電」ですよ。
A:あぁ、なるほど。「最後の電車」ってことですね!
B:そうですよ!
 

zxuiji

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Guess I still wasn't clear enough, what I was looking for was an existing meaning that can be used at the front of the description, like with 物 and 事, I use "thing" for the former and "matter" for the latter, both can mean the same thing but as a word are different, that's enough of a difference to cause my head to load the right kanji when drawing complex kanji/words that use them (haven't got an example at this moment but for a kanji like 親 I use "parent is a standing tree that sees all" when I see parent for the kanji to draw that's the way I know how to draw it from the sub kanji)
 

nice gaijin

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Guess I still wasn't clear enough, what I was looking for was an existing meaning that can be used at the front of the description, like with 物 and 事, I use "thing" for the former and "matter" for the latter, both can mean the same thing but as a word are different, that's enough of a difference to cause my head to load the right kanji when drawing complex kanji/words that use them (haven't got an example at this moment but for a kanji like 親 I use "parent is a standing tree that sees all" when I see parent for the kanji to draw that's the way I know how to draw it from the sub kanji)
Right, I get what you mean, a sort of "remembering the kanji" method. But 物 and 事 can both be used on their own, while 了 can't. It just doesn't have a meaning by itself. If you really need a word to associate with it you can use "past" or "finished" I guess, but you may just have to make an exception for this one.
 

zxuiji

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Going back that "understood" would the normal context be "processed" at all? I did a search and no kanji appears to be assigned that word so it seems a viable menomic if that's the common use
 

nice gaijin

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I'd say no, the character doesn't have that meaning, so it would be counter-productive to associate it with an unrelated word. Use "done" if you need anything, that's more or less appropriate for the uses in Japanese and Chinese alike.
 

zxuiji

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initially tried what you said but just now though of another way for now, although I will say a vacuum is all I got due to the fact I'm learning to write kanji, still learning the language also but that has to be treated separatly to learning to write them, I'll do a screenshot in a moment showing my alternative method
 

zxuiji

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Screenshot_20210406-135840_Kanji Study.jpg
 

zxuiji

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Putting the menomics directly in the description so when I see it I know which one to go with, doesn't help much with kanji that use kanji but I can just add sub brackets
 

nice gaijin

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hmm, I would still advise you not to try and study kanji in a vacuum, at least show common compounds that they appear in. The meaning itself can change based on how it's used, so why try to anchor it to a single English word? For me, this seems counter-productive.
 

Buntaro

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Editing descriptions of kana in my copy of the kanji study app

Zxuji,

If you want create an app that is helpful, you really, really need to include kanji combinations. For example, for 了, you need to include 了見、了承、了知、了覚、了解、了簡、了簡違、etc.

By the way, is Zxuji a Chinese name?
 
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mdchachi

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As Buntaro says it's really not that helpful to memorize kanji in isolation. It's much better to memorize common vocabulary that includes the kanji's primary pronunciations. That way you learn both the kanji and vocabulary as well.
The problem with learning kanji in isolation is that many of them include pronunciations that are rarely used and not necessarily worth learning. Even if you know the possible pronunciations, it may not be obvious which one to use in any given word. Plus, as discussed above, many kanji are difficult to pin down to any one easy-to-remember meaning.
 
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