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English Club : Learn English : Pronunciation : Minimal Pairs : final /m/ and /n/

Minimal Pairs final /m/ and /n/

am and an

Below are lists of words that vary only by one ending with the sound /m/ and the other ending with the sound /n/. You can use this to practise the sounds or as a list of words to be careful to pronounce properly.

This page uses the symbols of the Phonemic Chart. You can listen to the symbols here.

Both sounds are produced with the air coming through your nose. With /m/ that is achieved by closing your lips, whereas with /n/ the lips are open and your tongue touching the top of your mouth behind your teeth blocks the air. Even students who do not find these sounds difficult to recognise and produce at the beginning of syllables can have problems when they are at the end of words.

Elementary
am an
cam* can
foam* phone
home hone*
mam* man
meme* mean
sum* son
term* turn
time tine*

Pre-Intermediate
beam* been
came cane*
climb cline*
comb cone
gnome* known
seam* scene
spam span*
sum* sun
trams trans*

Intermediate
boom boon*
dime dine
fame feign*
game gain
gum gun
seem seen
team teen
term tern*
tome* tone

Upper-Intermediate
blame blain*
clam clan
dorm dawn
dumb dun*
gram gran
same sane
scam scan
skim skin
tomb 'toon*

Advanced
beam bean
deem dean
dim din
gleam glean
grim grin
sim sin
sperm spurn
teem teen
thyme tine

* the meaning of the word is not important at this level, but it can still be used to contrast the pronunciation with the other word.

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