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This is my first question here.

I am not a fluent English speaker. I just know the basics.

My question is how many m's should be there in "hmm" as when I try typing it anywhere, it suggests "hmmm," even on SO sites, including this one.

Is there is any reason for this ?

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I think mm is enough to get the idea across; mmm is ok too; more than that is silly. –  jwpat7 May 8 '13 at 14:41
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Hmmm is not actually a word in English (or I suspect any other language). It's an onomatopoeic expression of a sound someone might make. Even if you were to find it in a dictionary, there are no hard rules for how to spell it. –  p.s.w.g May 8 '13 at 14:44
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@NetStarter When writing 'sound words' like that, it's pretty much up to you how much emphasis you wish to place on the the various phonemes. ah expresses be a quick sound while ahhhhhhhhhhhh expresses a long, drawn-out sigh. –  p.s.w.g May 8 '13 at 14:52
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@p.s.w.g an onomatopoeia can be a word, you can found entries in dictionaries. As for other languages, in French, you can find "brr" (indicating a tremor due to cold) in all major dictionaries. cnrtl.fr/definition/brr –  Jo Bedard May 8 '13 at 19:51
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@JoBedard I didn't mean to imply that it couldn't. Boom is definitely a word. However, boooooom is definitely not. –  p.s.w.g May 8 '13 at 20:04

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Hmm. The Macmillan Dictionary has a listing for hmm, but not for hm or hmmm.

Oddly, h'm is listed as an alternative. However, according to Google Ngrams, the prevalence of h'm has fallen off sharply since the 1940s. (I don't think I've ever seen h'm in print.)

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thanks for the answer...:) –  NetStarter May 9 '13 at 14:05

Interesting... when writing I use 'hmmm' as it appears more obviously a longer pause for thought than just'hm' - which looks like a misspelt 'him' - or even hmm. It's purely a matter of appearance. any more m's would indeed look false and in my opinion would add nothing to the conveyance of meaning.

As to 'Shhhh', it depends on the character saying it and what they are trying to achieve. A quiet 'Sh' or 'Shush' between two people is different from trying to persuade those around you that they should keep quiet. In that case a larger number of h's appears to be acceptable - up to a point. That such a point remains undefined is one of the delights or aggravations of colloquial English!

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There's always the chance that too many mmmm's in "hmmm" or hhhh's in "shhh" may look ridiculous and hyperbolic, but I think it's important to leave the OP with the idea that self-expression is always an individual decision - who knows best, afterall, how long their "hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm" should be?" "looks false" to whom? The reader? Then the reader can judge if they must but I say may the writer WALLOW in their self-expression at the risk of being judged silly. Anyway, I LOVE that about the English language - it's so flexible and accommodating. Mmmmmmmmmm! –  Kristina Lopez May 8 '13 at 18:48
    
thanks for an answer...:) –  NetStarter May 9 '13 at 14:06

hmmmmmmmmm, well, I think you should do as many mmmm's as the moment takes your fancy. One day might be 3 mmm's yet another day may well be 12. It's all depending upon the present moment. However long your finger wishes to press the mmmm key. I notice the m's seem to type slower on this page. This is unusual, I am wondering more about why this is ..

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