Consonants /h/ versus /n/, 184 pairs     [hagnag.html]

The /h/ sound is spelled with <h> or <wh> in who. The /n/ sound is spelled with <n>, <nn> or <gn> in gnash and gnu.

This is a contrast between a voiceless glottal fricative and a voiced alveolar nasal continuant. It can only occur initially or medially before a stressed syllable. It is not a problem.

Interesting pairs include:

humorous numerous

The mean density value is 1.2%. The lists make 98 semantic distinctions, a loading of 53%.

ahoy annoy
hack knack
  hacks knacks
hacker knacker
  hackers knackers
hag nag
  hags nags
hail nail
  hailed nailed
  hails nails
  hailing nailing
hair ne'er
hale nail
hap knap
  happed knapped
  happing knapping
  haps knaps
hap nap
  happed napped
  happing napping
  haps naps
happy nappy
hark nark
  harked narked
  harking narking
  harks narks
harrow narrow
  harrowed narrowed
  harrowing narrowing
  harrows narrows
hash gnash 
  hashed gnashed 
  hashes gnashes 
  hashing gnashing 
hat gnat
  hats gnats
hat Nat 
hatter natter
  hatters natters
haughty naughty
  haughtier naughtier
  haughtiest naughtiest
  haughtily naughtily
  haughtiness naughtiness
haulm norm
haw gnaw 
  hawed gnawed 
  hawing gnawing 
  haws gnaws 
hay n�e
Hayling nailing
haze neighs
hazel nasal
  hazels nasals
he knee
head Ned 
heady Neddy 
heal kneel
  healed kneeled
  healing kneeling
  heals kneels
hear near
  hearing nearing
  hears nears
hearer nearer
hearse nurse
  hearses nurses
heather nether
heck neck
  hecks necks
hector nectar
heed knead
  heeded kneaded
  heeding kneading
  heeds kneads
heed need
  heeded needed
  heeding needing
  heeds needs
heed kneed
heel kneel
  heeling kneeling
  heels kneels
  heeled kneeled
heedful needful
heedless needless
height knight
  heights knights
hell nell 
Herr ne'er
hew knew
hew new
  hews news
hewed nude
hewer newer
hi nigh
hick nick 
  hicks nicks
high nigh
  higher nigher
  highest nighest
hill nil
hippie nippy
hit knit
  hits knits
  hitting knitting
hit nit
  hits nits
hitch niche
  hitches niches
hives knives
ho know
hoar nor
hoarse Norse
hob knob
  hobs knobs
hobble knobble
  hobbled nobbled
  hobbles knobbles
  hobbling nobbling
hock knock
  hocked knocked
  hocking knocking
  hocks knocks
hod nod
  hods nods
hoe know
  hoes knows
  hoeing knowing
hoes nose
hoed node
hole knoll
  holes knolls
home gnome 
  homes gnomes 
hone known
Hoo gnu
hook nook
  hooks nooks
hope nope
Horwich Norwich
hose knows
hose nose
  hosed nosed
  hoses noses
  hosing nosing
hosier nosier 
hot knot
  hots knots
  hotted knotted
  hotting knotting
hot not  
Houghton Norton
house nous
hovel novel
  hovels novels
how now
hub nub
  hubs nubs
hue knew
hue new
  hues hews
Hugh knew
Hugh new
hull null
hum numb
  hummed numbed
  humming numbing
  hums numbs
humerus numerous
humorous numerous
Hun none
Hun nun
  Huns nuns
hut nut
  huts nuts
  hutted nutted
whole knoll
  wholes knolls
whore gnaw
  whores gnaws
whore nor
who gnu
whose gnus 

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, December 2010
updated Chiang Mai, 2024