Most Kanji follow a pretty consistent pattern. If you’ve been studying them long enough, you just get a feel for how to write the characters and often don’t question whether or not you’re actually doing it right!
So here’s a little test for you. Can you properly write these 10 Kanji below? These Kanji are commonly written in the wrong order. If you know how to write these correctly… then give yourself a pat on the back, you’re doing better than a portion of native speakers. They’re all surprisingly simple actually (many of which appear in other Kanji as well)!
1. 火 – Fire
There is a natural tendency with this character to write it from left to right. However, this character follows an odd rule where symmetrical characters are written outside first, middle last. So the two smaller 丶 are written before the 人.
2. 万, 方 – Ten Thousand, Way
These two characters follow the same rule. After writing the 一, it’s common to write the 丿 next. Actually, that would be the last stroke. The hook-ish line comes first. 方 is the same, but with a dot on top of it.
3. 左, 友 – Left, Friend
Along with 右 below, the order of the first two strokes is often mixed up. There is a reason for this etymologically speaking, as demonstrated in the image below.
Thus, 左 meaning left, is written with “left hand (屮),” as is 友.
4. 右 – Right
Going along with the image above, 右 is written the way it is due to etymological reasons. Its top part is not 屮, but 又 (right hand).
5. 区 – Ward
Enclosure characters are difficult to write at times. It’s hard to tell whether or not the box should come first, the top line then the inside first… The latter for this type of enclosure is correct. The top line is drawn first, then the inside content is drawn, then lastly the L shaped line is written as one stroke.
6. 水, 永, 泳 – Water, Eternity, Swim
The three of these all follow the same trend. One would think it’s drawn left to write, like 火. But following the same rule, the middle line (after all the other rules that take precedence have been followed) is written first, then the outside parts. Note with 泳, the three dots on the left (さんずい) are written first.
7. 隹 – Bird (radical)
I have a rather odd way of writing this radical. First I draw the top-left 丿, then the dot right next to it. However, the dot is drawn in third place – the vertical line to the very left comes second. Next you would draw the top most horizontal line, followed by the other vertical line. All of the other horizontal lines are written from top to bottom afterwards.
8. 王, 玉 – King, Ball
The standard rule is “Top to bottom, left to right.” Often times the vertical stroke is written last, or thirdly. Correctly the vertical stroke is second.
9. 世 – Society
This character still confuses me. I tend to write the horizontal line first, then the L looking stroke. But that stroke is last!
10. 豕 – Pig (radical)
This radical has two strokes at the end that are often written backwards. The right-ward sweep is often written before the dot above it, but the order is the other way around.
Bonus: 凹, 凸, and 龜
Maybe you already knew how to correctly write the above characters. You’ve patted yourself on the back. Now what? Here’s a little challenge for you! Can you correctly write these three Kanji? The last one is a bit murderous.
Answers are below!
Images borrowed from Denshi Jisho