English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

"ng" is pronounced normally [ŋ], but for some people it becomes [ng] when followed by a vowel. What's the phonological rule about this? Is it a common feature of all dialects of English?

share|improve this question
It is only present in a few dialects, most notably the New York City dialect. See "Lawn Guyland". And I think it may only happen after some vowels, definitely including /ɔ/. I lived near New York City for quite a while, and pronouncing the g in "sing-along" seems totally wrong, whereas pronouncing it in "Long Island" and "wrong of me" doesn't. (I don't do it myself, so I could be wrong about this.) – Peter Shor Oct 31 '11 at 12:13
I speak a pretty typical General American dialect, and I've never heard this. I think we can pretty safely say that this is a dialectal feature. – JSBձոգչ Oct 31 '11 at 12:24
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Basically, the rule is: when the ng comes at the end of a word, you do not pronounce the g (ŋ), and when it is in the middle of a word and followed by a vowel, you do pronounce the g (ŋɡ). The origin of this phonetic g-deletion is called Ng coalescence. However, some dialects treat two words (e.g. wrong of) as one (wrongof) and pronounce it accordingly. This is not normative pronunciation. In the linked article, Wikipedia lists some of the dialects in which it is common:

This is particularly associated with English English accents in an area of northern England and the Midlands, including the cities of Birmingham (see Brummie), Manchester, Liverpool (see Scouse), Sheffield and Stoke-on-Trent. It is also associated with some American English accents in the New York area.

share|improve this answer
Exceptions: when a suffix is added to a word ending "-ng", the ŋ is usually retained ("singing", "stringy", "bringer") except for a few suffixes such as comparative "-er" and "-est" ("longer", "strongest", which have ŋg). Oddly, agentive "-er" is not an exception: when "longer" means "one who longs", it has ŋ. – Colin Fine Nov 1 '11 at 12:26
@Colin: +1 I believe most of that is in the Wiki article, but it's helpful to have here too! – Daniel Nov 1 '11 at 12:58

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.