Hello there! This is the “Sounds American” channel. In this video we’re going to talk about the American consonant sound /ŋ/, as in the word “thing.” You can also hear this sound in words like “sing,” “long,” “bank” or “uncle.” We’ll be using a special phonetic symbol – /ŋ/ – for this sound. Many non-native English speakers don’t realize they have difficulty with the /ŋ/ sound. However, this sound is often distorted, which noticeably affects their American pronunciation. The good news is that once you know how the /ŋ/ sound is spelled and how to pronounce it correctly, you will sound more like an American. Let’s start with learning how to recognize the /ŋ/ in written words. 1.The /ŋ/ is most commonly represented by the combination of letters ‘-ng’ at the end of words. So, when you see a word that ends with the ‘ng’ combination, you should always pronounce the sound /ŋ/. For example: As you may have already noticed, the final ‘g’ is not pronounced, as it belongs to the /ŋ/ sound. 2. Sometimes you may find the combination ‘ng’ in the middle of a word. For example: Now take a look: In these words the letter ‘n’ is still pronounced as /ŋ/, but you should also pronounce the letter ‘g’ as it’s part of the next syllable. 3. And finally there’s one last case. Listen to these words: The letter ‘n’ is pronounced as /ŋ/ as it occurs before the letter ‘k’ or the letter ‘c.’ If it still feels complicated, here’s a quick summary: If you see a word that ends with ‘ng,’ you have the /ŋ/ sound If you see the letter ‘n’ before the letters ‘g,’ ‘k’ or ‘c,’ pronounce the ‘n’ as /ŋ/. And now, let’s find out how to make the /ŋ/ sound. To make the /ŋ/ sound correctly, it’s important to pass the air through your nose. Let’s take a closer look at how to do that: Pull the back of your tongue toward your throat. Next stop the air in your mouth with the back of your tongue and direct it into your nose. If you make this sound correctly, you should be able to stretch out this sound, like this: /ŋ-ŋ-ŋ-ŋ-ŋ/ Now, let’s try saying it: /ŋ/ /ŋ/ /ŋ/ Here are a few typical mistakes people make when pronouncing the /ŋ/ sound: (Number one). The most common mistake is when people pronounce the /ŋ/ as the /n/ and /g/ sounds. As a result, the /ŋ/ is distorted and sounds like /ng/. Remember, even though the /ŋ/ is represented by the two letters ‘ng’, it’s still a single sound. The letter ‘g’ is never pronounced in the ‘ng’ combination at the end of words. Listen: “sing” but not /sing/ or /siŋg/ (Number two). This is similar to the previous problem when the /ŋ/ is pronounced as two sounds. Some people don’t pronounce the final ‘g’
when making the /ŋ/, and that’s great, except for the fact that they pronounce the voiceless sound /k/ instead. As a result, the /ŋ/ sounds more like /nk/. This way the word “sing” will sound more like “sink.” Which, by the way, is a totally different word. Compare: “sing” – “sink.” (Number three) Finally, some people distort the /ŋ/ by placing the tip of the tongue to the alveolar ridge or against the back of their upper front teeth. As a result, the /ŋ/ sounds more like the /n/ sound. Listen and compare: “sing” – “sin” That’s an absolutely different word again! To make the /ŋ/ sound correctly, you should pull the back of your tongue toward your throat: “sing.” Now, let’s practice the /ŋ/ sound in some words. You’ll see a word on the screen and hear its pronunciation. Like this. You’ll have a few seconds to pronounce the word. Repeat each word after the speaker. This is the most important part of the exercise. Let’s begin! Let’s pause here for a second and check on how you are making the /ŋ/ sound. The back of your tongue should be pulled toward your throat and the air should be directed into your nose. Let’s continue practicing. You’re done! Congratulations! By the way, while watching this video, did you think of any words with the /ŋ/ sound that you pronounced incorrectly? If yes, let us know in the comments! Don’t forget to subscribe and stay tuned for more videos!