/n/ becoming /m/

/n/ → /m/

The nasal alveolar /n/ becomes a nasal bilabial /m/ when it’s followed by a bilabial sound, such as /p/, /b/ or /m/, because of assimilation. The change only affects the place of articulation, but the manner of articulation (nasal) remain the same.



/n/ (followed by /p/, /b/ or /m/) becomes /m/

sound_loud_speaker Ten percent.      ǀ tem pəˈsent ǀ

sound_loud_speaker Ten boys.        ǀ tem ˈbɔɪz ǀ

sound_loud_speaker Better than me.        ǀ ˈbetə ðəm ˈmi ǀ


And here is an example by a very well-spoken native speaker:

sound_loud_speaker Though I have, certainly on one book, gone back to writing the first draft entirely by hand (Julian Barnes, OpenLearn).

sound_loud_speaker Facebook has been the subject of, over the past few weeks, a series of damning revelations in The Wall Street Journal called The Facebook Files, which cover everything from changes in Facebook’s algorithm, allegedly inciting more sort of divisive content, to Instagram being damaging for teen mental health (Dan Milmo,  Today in focus, The Guardian).

Notice that here teen /tiːn/ sounds like team /tiːm/ because of the assimilation.


This is the type of work I do with my students in my one-to-one classes. I make them practise these processes with exercises until they improve their comprehension of native speakers and are capable of speaking like that themselves. If you are interested in my classes, you can contact me here.


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