In a nutshell
‘N’ is a wonderful letter! It is the second most used consonant in English (after ‘t’) and can almost always be relied upon to be pronounced with an ‘n is for night’ sound.
A couple of songs
Here is a short song which features numerous examples of the letter n. The capital ‘n’ is featured more than the lowercase one, so this is a good one if your child is not familiar with the capital’s shape.
And here is a Sesame Street song – this time focusing on a lonely lowercase ‘n’:
On very rare occasions ‘n’ is silent – usually at the end of a word. Some examples of this are ‘solemn’, ‘autumn’, and ‘hymn’. If your child comes across a silent ‘n’ we suggest you congratulate them – it doesn’t really occur in any beginner-level words, so encountering it is a sign they are progressing well.
The ‘ng’ sound
The ‘ng’ sound is an important one to get right. When a youngster learns to pronounce this letter combination with the correct sound they have taken another small but important step on the road to reading.
Incorrect pronunciation of ‘ng’ is often an immediate giveaway that the person is a non-native speaker of English. If this is the case for your child, you may wish watch this video which teaches the correct way to pronounce the ‘ng’ sound:
Here is a fun, silly tongue twister for you and your child to attempt. In addition to reinforcing the pronunciation of ‘n’ it also gives you an opportunity to discuss the concept of silent ‘k’.
‘Nighty-night, knight,’ said one knight to the other knight the other night.
‘Nighty-night, knight,’ answered the other knight the other night.
N is for nano
Do you know how long a nanometer is? The metric system is in common usage throughout virtually the whole world, with America being a major exception. Even if you are American, teaching your child the basics of the metric system is useful – apart from anything else it is a good introduction to the mathematical concept of powers of ten.
So how long is a nanometer? Well, ‘nano’ (which can be abbreviated to ‘n’) means one billionth, hence a nanometer is 0.000000001 meters!
Some common metric prefixes:
Nano: one billionth
Micro: one millionth
Milli: one thousandth
Centi: one hundredth
Kilo: one thousand times
Mega: one million times
Giga: one billion times
‘I Spy’ words
‘I spy with my little eye, something beginning with…’ is a great game to play to reinforce the sound that a letter makes and it can be a fun game to kill some time – for example on a long car trip.
Here is a selection of short words starting with ‘n’ for you to use:
nut, nose, nest, note, nurse, net, neck, nana, nun, noodles, nail, notes, needle, nickel, necklace, notebook.
The Letter N Worksheets
This letter n worksheet gives your child lots of opportunities to practice writing capital N.
This letter n worksheet focuses on the lower case letter n.
This worksheet gives your child an introduction to the sound that ‘n’ makes, and also allows them to practice writing the capital and lower case letter n.
The ‘ng’ blend is a commonly encountered and important sound to learn.