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What is the difference between न & ण ?

What's the difference between न & ण ? I can't hear any difference between them. Is ण said with the tongue turned back like ट & ड as they are also transliterated with a dot beneath them?

July 20, 2018



Exactly! ट, ड, and ण are retroflexed consonants, meaning they are pronounced with the tongue curled behind.


If one pronounces a sound without the retroflex (or not completely back enough) will it

a. be obvious

b. be hard to understand


English speakers tend to pronounce a milder version of Indian retroflexed consonants (their tongue might not be curled back up properly, or they might not be hitting the tongue with the required force), but it generally poses no ambiguity since the two versions sound similar enough. However, there might be ambiguity with त as English speakers might pronounce the dental t in a way which can sound like ट to native Hindi speakers.


Thank you, here is a lingot :)


ive been leaving this explanation around, hope it helps!

have a few pronounciation tips I'd like to share that i think would be helpful: Hindi uses lots of sounds that are foreign to English. Take the sentence "मैं अच्छा हूँ" or "I am good." The first and last words, phonemically "main" and "hoon", end in nasal sounds. The symbols ँ and ं indicate a nasal sound. Listen closely to the recordings for how to correctly pronounce them! You can also check out the IPA chart link below for more sound bites. Be sure to commit to memory all the diacritical markings in devanagari. They usually change the vowel sound of a character, but not always! For example म (ma) can become मि (mi) or मी (mī) (which is short vowel vs long vowel) but can also become मृ (mr) or र्म (rma, a conjunct consonant) which is र् + म. I highly suggest checking out the link below to omniglot.com, where there is a full quick reference list of these characters that can help with the intricacies of devanagari. Be sure to look closely at the section labeled "common conjunct consonants". Thede are two characters that are joined together into one.

Whenever you see a word or letters transcripted into our latin alphabet, consonants that have a dot underneath are retroflex. A few hindi characters (devanagari) may sound extremely similar ie त,ट। थ,ठ। द,ड। and ध,ढ (ta, ṭa | tha, ṭha | da, ḍa | dha, ḍha respectively) however, they differ in their place of articulation (be it alveolar ridge or retroflex) and aspiration. While I could dive into an in depth explanation, others already have, so I will share links :)) some of these sites may not write a retroflex as ṭ or ḍ. When not written that way, you will find the IPA symbols ʈ and ɖ. They are the same sounds.

More on retroflex and t vs d: https://www.livinglanguage.com/blog/2014/02/19/pronunciation-tips-for-hindi-t-and-d/

Retroflex specific: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retroflex_consonant

Overall good hindi info along with a full chart of all DEVANAGARI CHARACTERS and their phonetic transcriptions: http://www.omniglot.com/writing/hindi.htm

A site where you can listen to every specific sound found in hindi, over and over till you understand it:


In lack of the tips before the course, this may be of help to some degree: https://en.m.wikibooks.org/wiki/Hindi/Introduction

Although I talked only about the t and d sounds, retroflexs occur in other hindi sounds such as ण (na) ष (sa) so keep your eyes peeled! If I made any errors please let me know (cause we're in this together and Im still learning too!) Good luck and have fun!


Ideally all Hindi courses should open with an annotated diagram of the human tongue and palate. ;)


Agreed 1000%. In a perfect world...

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