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N (letter)

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N, n is a letter of the Latin alphabet. It is the fourteenth letter of most variants, being placed after M and before O, as is the case for instance in the English alphabet. Its English name is pronounced [ˈen], en, as in en dash.

Ñ is used in some languages, e.g. Spanish, where it is pronounced [ɲ], as in mañana.

Use in English

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Use in English
Alphabetical word list
Retroalphabetical list  
Common misspellings  

n is pronounced in the position of t (as in tén) and d (as in dòes), tongue behind upper teeth, hummed: nòne, noôn, nåughty, nîce, nô, nót, Nétherlands, níl, nought, nòthing, any (pronounced *énny), sâne, pâne window = pâin hurt, nāsty.

  • The accents show stress and pronunciation (see English spellings): A: sát, mâde, pàrk, cāst (cást/càst), åll, ãir; E: ére, êar, vèin, fërn; I: sít, mîne, skì, bïrd; O: sóng, môde, lòve, wörd, ŏr; OO: moôn, foòt; U: sún, mûse, fùll, pürr; W: neŵ, ẁant; Y: gým, mŷ, keỳ, mÿrrh.

It may be preceded by a silent k at the beginning of a word: knôw, knót, knéll, knóll, knîfe, knêad dough (= nêed require) or, initially or towards the end, by a silent g: gnát, gnôme, gnû, rèign, sîgn, desîgn, colôgne, dèign.

It is doubled in the middle of words to keep the preceding vowel short: fúnny (from fún), ínner, wínning, dínner, Ánnie, Kénnedy, mánned, bánned. Where an n follows the prefix un-, both n’s must be pronounced, that is to say, the sound is lengthened: unnátural, unnécessary, unnêeded; and with a silent k in unknôwn.

n begins consonant clusters: áncestor (-ns-), cóncrête (-ngk-), lúnch, ánchor (-nk-), úncle, énd, hándle, Ándrew, infŏrm, ínflâte, ínfra-réd, éngine, engâge, inhérent, thínk, ánkle, insîde, mónster, ínstrúct, bént, mántle, éntry, énvelope, jínx (-ks), ánxious (-nksh), anxîety (-ngz-), énzyme.

Silent n comes after m at the end of åutumn, hýmn, cólumn, dámn, condémn, sólemn.

ng

ng has its own sound, IPA [ŋ], a hum in the back of the throat: síng, wíng, sínging, sóng, ríng, wróng, díng-dóng, báng.

In this final position, the g is never pronounced separately (outside some regional pronunciations) and this is true before a vowel in the middle of some words: sínger, wínger, wrónged, bánging, Bíngham, Búckingham; and in dínghy boat (díng- + silent h, + -ŷ, with or without hard g) it is followed by an h to distinguish it from díngy dirty, which has the j sound, *dínjy, as does dúngeon, *dúnjən. But the g is pronounced (not as a j) separately in the middle of other words: fínger (*fíng-gər), English (*Íng-glish), ánger (*áng-gər), ángry (*áng-gry).

This ng sound is also heard where n is followed by c, k, or x: úncle, ánkle, ánchor (*ángkər, cf. ánchovy, -nch- as -ntch-), ánxious, sínk, thínk, tánk, wínkle, ínkling, tínkle, ráncour.

Scientific uses

  • N: newton, unit of force
  • n: neutron
  • N: nucleon
  • N: Avogadro's number