Nasal Assimilation

Listen to the following phrases beginning with ‘In’.  How is the /n/ pronounced in each case?

In Brighton
In Canada
In September

/n/ changes to /m/ in ‘In Brighton’,
/n/ changes to /ŋ/ ‘In Canada’,
/n/ doesn’t change in ‘In September’

When do nasal assimilations occur?

  • In connected speech, the sound /n/ often assimilates to /m/ or /ŋ/.
  • If /n/ is followed by a bilabial consonant (p,b,m), it can assimilate to /m/.
  • If /n/ is followed by a velar sound (k,g), it can assimilate to /ŋ/.
  • If /n/ is followed by a vowel or any other consonant, it will normally remain as /n/.


/n/ = /m/: drainpipe, rainbow, entertainment, in Bath, in Poland, on Monday.

/n/ = /ŋ/: incase, think, painkillers, increase, in Canada, in Cambridge, in Ghana.



Listen to the recording and decide if the letter ’n’ will be pronounced as /n/, /m/ or /ŋ/.

A. In Manchester.

B. Telephone Cathy. C. My son Chris. D. When can you come? E. On my own. F. Incredibly easy. G. American Mansion. H. You’re incapable. I. Complain by telephone. J. Ben’s taller than Paul.
A. /m/, /n/
B. /ŋ/
C. /ŋ/
D. /ŋ/, /n/
E. /m/, /n/
F. /ŋ/
G. /m/, /n/, /n/.
H. /ŋ/
I. /m/, /n/
J. /n/, /m/