Japanese Lessons

Japanese Consonants: How to Pronounce ん

ん

Description of the Japanese Pronunciation ん

The pronunciation of ん varies depending on the following sounds because the place of articulation assimilates the latter consonants. Let’s check one by one.

When the Following Sound Is [m] [p] [b] (コンマ、さんぽ、とんぼ).

You pronounce ん as [m].

Picture describing Japanese pronunciation [m]

When you pronounce [m], you are going to close your lips and make a sound by allowing air to pass out through your nose.  [m] is a voiced sound.

When the Following Sound Is [k] [g] (てんき、おんがく).

Picture describing Japanese pronunciation [ŋ]

You pronounce ん as [ŋ]. Unlike the sound of [n], you need to touch the back part of your tongue with the back part of the roof of your mouth. Then, you make a sound by allowing air to pass out through your nose.

When ん Is at the End of Utterances (ほん、こうえん).

Picture describing Japanese pronunciation [N]

You pronounce ん as [N]. Unlike any other sounds, you need to touch the root of your tongue with your uvula. Then, you make a sound by allowing air to pass out through your nose.

Elsewhere (みんな、べんとう、もんだい、れんらく)

You pronounce ん as [n].

Picture describing Japanese pronunciation [n]

When you pronounce [n], your tongue is going to touch the roof of your mouth just a little farther back than your upper gums and you will make a sound by allowing air to pass out through your nose. [n] is a voiced sound.

Does it make sense to you? Let’s try to pronounce ん after the tutor on the video!

 

Wasabi Japanese Pronunciation Lessons

Words Exercise with the Pronunciation [m] [ŋ] [N] [n] ん

Please repeat the following words after the tutor on the video.

Words Roman Letters Meanings
あんまり a n ma ri unreasonable, too much
さんぷん sa n pu n three minutes
ぜんぶ ze n bu every, all
こんげつ ko n ge tsu this month
かんがえる ka n ga e ru to think
でんき  de n ki electricity
みなさん mi na sa n everyone, everybody (polite)
たくさん ta ku sa n many, a lot of
びょういん byo u i n hospital
こんにちは ko n ni chi wa good afternoon
洗濯せんたく se n ta ku washing, laundering
階段かいだん ka i da n stairs

Sentences Exercise with the Pronunciation [m] [ŋ] [N] [n] ん

Please repeat the following sentences after the tutor in the video.

Japanese Sentences English Translations
みんなで弁当べんとう交換こうかんしました。 We all exchanged our [box] lunches.
しょかん鉛筆えんぴつわすれました。 I left my pencil in the library.
この音楽おんがく一番いちばんきです。 I like this music the most.

Tongue Twister Exercise with the Pronunciation [m] [ŋ] [N] [n] ん

Please repeat the following tongue twisters after the tutor on the video. Also, please focus on the pronunciation practice, not the meaning, because they were made only for the sake of practice.

Japanese Tongue Twisters Vocabulary

まんけん三千万さんぜんまん換金かんきんまんけん三千万さんぜんまん換金かんきん

まんけん: betting ticket with a payout of at least 100 times (horse racing) 換金かんきん: to change … into cash

しん宿雀じゅくじゃんそうどう?、しん宿雀じゅくじゃんそうどう?、しん宿雀じゅくじゃんそうどう?

しん宿じゅく: town’s name じゃんそう: mah-jongg parlor

新人しんじんしゅしんしゅんシャンソンショー

 新人しんじん: newcomer しゅ: singer しんしゅん: new spring シャンソン: chanson ショー: show

 

Conclusion

This is the how to pronounce [m] [ŋ] [N] [n] ん. We recommend that you practice the sentences above at least 5 times for each exercise, though we understand that pronunciation practice can be dull. Good pronunciation will give you listening and speaking ability, and thereby you will be confident enough to speak Japanese with native speakers. Thus, the ability you gain is well worth the time spent. We are looking forward to seeing you in the next lesson; [kj] [gj] きゃ きゅ きょ、ぎゃ ぎゅ ぎょ.

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