Hey! There was a post about the same thing so you can look for that in the forums if you want. I had posted there (and if you don’t want to go searching for it) and will post it again here. If you do find it, please read the other responses because they may help you too.
For ノ(no), I think of it as the first stroke when you would write an “x” as for no, that is wrong. [I think that Anonymous123’s tip is very helpful: it has no “eyes”]
For シ (shi) and ツ (tsu), you can differentiate them by the direction the “eyes” (two small strokes) are facing.
For シ (shi) the “eyes” are looking at someone else, possibly a girl. Who is it looking at? She - Shi シ。As for ツ (tsu), they are looking at You - Tsu ツ。
For ソ (so) and ン (n), I have yet to think of a well thought out tip, but for ソ (so) I have this: When you are in a conversation, have you ever elongated the “o” when you are saying “so”? For example: Sooooo, what did you do yesterday? Typically, when you say this long “so”, your pitch goes down. When I see ソ (so), the single “eye” stroke is going downwards, just as your pitch in the elongated “so”.
For ン (n), I think of a pencil/pen when it is on its side. The single “eye” stroke is going in a direction almost perpendicular to the bottom “smile” stroke to create the tip of a pen. This pen is going to help you accomplish notes.
Yes, these may be a bit far off, but it has immensely helped me in telling the difference.
Years Studied: 四年ごろ勉強しましたけど、十八年前に始めたと、十四年前に正式な授業を受けた Studying: Japanese, Korean, and Living life
好 : 140
I'll post my previous post here: Ah reminds me of the time when I started learning. I made these mistakes a lot too.
Here's some tips from my observation:
1. use context. When the characters are seen in text or sentences, usually you'll be able to tell what doesn't make sense by elimination.
2. It is harder when the characters are standalone. However, visually, computer fonts are made to tell them apart, like the previous method. Handwritings will be harder. The other way is to actually mentally draw a box to box up the characters, like when one is practicing writing with grid paper worksheets.
Once you mentally drew a box, you"ll be able to see that:
Tsu ツ, has all 3 brush strokes touching the top side of the box.
Shi シ, has all 3 brush strokes touching the left side of the box.
So ソ, has all 2 brush strokes touching the top side of the box.
N ン, has all 2 brush strokes touching the left side of the box.
This is the method that worked for me, and I hope it will be useful to help you too.
Also, don't forget that you can add mnemonics as "usage" notes for vocabulary (and all singular kana are listed in the vocab dictionary). I hope to make these available in the future for those "learning for the first time" panels, so anything you add there will probably be useful to others!