IPA phoneme /n/
In English, both in Received Pronunciation and in General American, the IPA phonetic symbol /n/ corresponds to the initial consonant sound in words like "nice" and "know" and the final one in "one" and "can".
Initial pronunciation of /n/:
- knee - knife - knock - know - name - near - need - never - new - next - nice - night - note - nothing - now - number
Final pronunciation of /n/:
- again - begin - between - can - down - even - happen - man - mean - own - question - run - then - turn - when - woman
Middle pronunciation of /n/:
- as "n": company - country - end - enough - interest - many - money - understand
- as "nn": announce - annual - channel - connection - dinner - funny - manner
/n.n/ vs /n/
- /n.n/: meanness, unknown, unnatural, unnecessary
- /n/: cannot, innate, innovation
If a word cannot be separated in two components (such as mean-ness or can-not) then there is no doubt that the pronunciation is /n/.
- announce, annual, connection, dinner, funny
In many words the combinations "nc", "nch", "nk" and "nq" represent /ŋk/, as in uncle, anchor, ink and banquet. In many words "ng" represents /ŋg/ as in finger and kangaroo.
Before /p/ or /b/, /n/ can be pronounced [m] as in an alternative pronunciation of input as . There are no minimal pairs in which the difference is /np/ and /mp/, or /nb/ and /mb/, however these two words are very similar:
- impatient /ɪmˈpeɪʃənt/ - inpatient /ˈɪnpeɪʃənt/.
Assimilation may occur across word boundaries: "in case" pronounced [ɪŋ ˈkeɪs], "in place" pronounced [ɪm ˈpleɪs] and "in front" pronounced [iɱ frʌnt].
Lack of assimilation
The following words are shown with /nk/ in most dictionaries.
- With "nc": conclude - conclusion - encourage - include - income - incorporate - increase - unclear
- With "nch": melancholic - melancholy
- With "nk": mankind - painkiller - pancake - unkind
- With "nq": enquire - inquire - unquestionable
The following words are shown with /ng/ in most dictionaries.
- congratulate, engage, engrave, ingrained, ingredient, sunglasses, ungrateful
The following words are shown with /nb/ in most dictionaries.
- bonbon, cranberry, rainbow, sunbathe, unbearable, unbelievable
The following words are shown with /np/ in most dictionaries.
- gunpowder, inpatient, input, unpack, unpleasant, unpopular
Anticipated pronunciation difficulties depending on L1
Preconceived ideas and other interferences from L1 obviously interfere in many cases with how students perceive - and pronounce - sounds/words in English. The following section aims to point out some of the most typical difficulties teachers and students may encounter regarding pronunciation.
Assimilation is normal in Spanish. Not only [ˈimput] as a Spanish word is more common than [ˈinput], the latter can hardly be pronounced.
Southern Chinese often confuse /n/ with /l/.