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How to use “m” and “n” in Spanish Posted by on Apr 29, 2013 in Learning

Hello, there! Did you have a good weekend? I hope you did!

Both letters “m” and “n” have the same sound when they come at the end of a syllble, for example, in words like completo [complete], cambio [change], cinco [five], algún [some], among others.

We follow some rules:

1. Before p and b we always use m: amplio [spacious], ambos [both], empezar [to start], embarcar [to board].

2. We n at the end of words: jardín [garden], corazón [heart], cien [hundred], quién [who], algún [some]. There are some exceptions with words that have their origin in other languages: álbum, ídem, ítem, currículum, réquiem, ultimátum.

3. We use the clusters nm or nn in words formed with prefixes con, en, in. Examples: conmigo [with me], conmemorar [to celebrate], enmendar [to fix], enmudecer [to be silent], inmueble [real estate], inmensidad [immensity], innecesario [unnecessary].

4. There are a few words with the mn cluster: alumno [student], columna [column], calumnia [slander].

Test Yourself!

Complete the following words with m, n or mn:

1. co…bustible [fuel]
2. ta..bié… [too]
3. ca..pa..illa [small bell; Tinkerbell]
4. i..e..orable [memorable]
5. i…igrar [to immigrate]
6. álbu…[album]
7. e…loquecer [to go crazy]
8. calu…ia [slander]
9. alu…o [student]
10. co…fu…dir [to confuse]
11. ca…sado [tired]
12. a…paro [support, shelter, cover]
13. íte… [item]
14. co…igo [with me]
15. réquie…
16. ho…bro [shoulder]
17. colu…a [column]
18. jardí… [garden]
19. ha…bre [hunger]
20. a…plio [spacious]
21. catalá… [Catalan]

Check your answers in an online dictionary like this one!

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About the Author: Adir

English / Spanish teacher and translator for over 20 years. I have been blogging since 2007 and I am also a professional singer in my spare time.


Comments:

  1. Jose LTM:

    Are you sure that “m” and “n” have the same pronounciation in those positions? I understand your idea, but I think this could be a bit misleading, right?
    Anyway, congratulations for the blog

    • Adir:

      @Jose LTM Hi, Jose! Thanks for commenting. Actually this was just “a broad stroke of paint” on the subject because I didn’t want to get into hairy phonology issues, but for learners this is something they can work with at the beginning. =)