`ambience’ and `ambiance’

The French spell it `ambiance’, while most people in the U.S. spell it `ambience’. As far as the meaning is concerned, there is no difference between the two words.

The `a’ in `ambience’ is like the `a’ in `cat’, act’, and `bat’, while the following `i’ is like the `i’ in `pit’, `bit’, and `fit’. The `e’ in the third syllable sounds like the `a’ in `china’ and the final `e’ is silent. The main stress is on the first syllable. This is one way of pronouncing the word. `Ambience/ambiance’ is normally used to refer to the atmosphere of a place.

*The ambiance/ambience in the new restaurant was fantastic. *The ambience of their new apartment is anything but cosy.

Source: The Hindu ‘Know Your English’ Series, December 5, 2005

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