Nasal Assimilation and Pronunciations of Korean Consonants

Posted: 2011-01-15 / Updated: 2018-02-07

When you say thank you ( 감사합니다 ) in Korean, you say gam-sa-ham-ni-da. You do not say gam-sa-hab-ni-da, due to nasal assimilation.

Nasal assimilation, or nasalization, is a process to convert a consonant into one of the nasal sound ㅁ(m) ㄴ(n) ㅇ(ng). When an ending consonant of a hangul is followed by a hangul with a beginning consonant ㅁ(m) or ㄴ(n), then nasal assimilation takes place. See the table below for the assimilation process.

Ending ConsonantPronunciationAfter AssimilationExample
ㅂ ㅍ ㅄ ㄿ ㄼ 감사합니다 [감사함니다]
ㄷ ㅌ ㅈ ㅊ ㅅ ㅆ ㅎ 믿는다 [민는다]
ㄱ ㅋ ㄲ ㄳ ㄺ 작년 [장년]

Here are more examples:

English MeaningExamplePronunciation After Assimilation
thank you 고맙습니다 [고맙슴니다]
front door앞문[암문]
how many years몇년[면년]
it is not there없나요[엄나요]
Is he gone?갔나요?[간나요]
I am eating rice 밥 먹어요 [밤 머거요]
There are many clothes옷 많아요[온 마나요]

As you can see in the last 2 examples, the nasal assimilation process can apply across word boundary, especially when you say it fast enough and do not pause between the words.


Related Grammar Points