Nasal Assimilation and Pronunciations of Korean Consonants

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 ㄼ감사합니다 [감사함니다]
ㄷ ㅌ ㅈ ㅊ ㅅ ㅆ ㅎ믿는다 [민는다]
ㄱ ㅋ ㄲ ㄳ ㄺ작년 [장년]

Here are more examples:

ExamplePronunciation After AssimilationMeaning
고맙습니다[고맙슴니다]thank you
앞문[암문]front door
몇년[면년]how many years
갔나요?[간나요]Is he gone?
밥 먹어요[밤 머거요]I am eating rice
옷 많아요[온 마나요]There are many clothes

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.

Learn Korean Hangul »

Related Grammar Points