The sound /n/ voiced, alveolar, nasal consonant




  • "n" - nice, pen
  • "nn" - planned, dinner
  • "kn" - know, knife
  • "gn" - sign, gnaw*
  • "gne" (not common) - champagne, cologne

The sound /n/ can be in these clusters:
  • Beginning of a Syllable
/sn/ ("sn") - snow

  • End of a Syllable
/ln/ ("ln") - kiln
/lnz/ ("lns") - kilns
/rn/ ("rn") - barn
/rnz/ ("rns") - horns
/rnd/ ("rned") - mourned
/nt/ ("nt") - point
/nts/ ("nts") - rents
/ntʃ/ ("nch") - lunch
/ntʃt/ ("nched") - launched
/ndʒ/ ("nge") - strange
/nz/ ("ns" / "nse", / "nes") - fans, cleanse, bones
/ns/ ("nce" / "nse") - chance, sense
/nθ/ ("nth") - seventh
/nθs/ ("nths") - tenths
/nd/ ("nd" / "ned" / "nned")- send, loaned, planned
/ndz/ ("nds") - minds

*Note: Occasionally the spelling "gn" is pronounced /ny/, as in the words "vignette" and "poignant".

Grammar Tip:

The sound /n/ is part of the suffix "-en." This suffix is used to mark some past participles in
English. Past participles are used in perfect verbs or passive verbs.

In perfect verbs:


  • He has eaten
  • We had spoken


In passive verbs:


  • The article was written
  • The window was broken
The sound /n/ is also part of several contractions. A contraction is formed by combining two words. The contractions below end in the consonant cluster /nt/.
  • will not = won't
  • do not = don't
  • could not = couldn't
  • cannot = can't
Compare /n/ with /ŋ/:

These are both nasal consonants. However, /n/ is an alveolar nasal while /ŋ/ is a velar nasal. When you pronounce /n/, the tip of your tongue should touch the roof of your mouth and the back of your tongue should be low in your mouth. 
You can hear the difference between /n/ and /ŋ/ in these words.
1. A. win, B. wing
2. A. sun, B. sung
3. A. tons, B. tongues
4. A. banned, B. banged
5. A. taken, B. taking
6. A. sinning, B. singing

Now compare /n/ and /l/:

These are both voiced alveolar consonants. However, /n/ is a nasal consonant while /l/ is a liquid consonant. To pronounce /n/, air should stop in your mouth but flow out of your nose.

You can hear the difference between /n/ and /l/ in these words.
1. A. night, B. light
2. A. news, B. lose
3. A. nine, B. line
4. A. win, B. will
5. A. tenor, B. teller
6. A. spinning, B. spilling
Listen and repeat these words:
1. nice
2. number
3. snow
4. sneeze
5. snack
6. dinner
7. tunnel
8. evening
9. center
10. mention
11. man
12. happen
13. mint
14. chance
15. strange
16. lunch
17. bones
18. launched
19. invention
20. nonsense

Now practice /n/ in sentences. Say the words first, then the sentences.
1. complained - neighbors - noisy
He complained that his neighbors were too noisy.
2. inside - when - snowing
We should stay inside when it's snowing.
3. couldn't - find - journal
I couldn't find the right journal.
4. haven't - chance - finish
I haven't had a chance to finish.
5. lunch - fancy - restaurant
We had lunch at a fancy restaurant.
6. learned - anything - new - recently
Have you learned anything new recently?

To practice with different varieties of English, choose another native English speaker by clicking one of the links below:

Consonants /d/ and /g/

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