I'm sick of following my dreams. I'm just going to ask them where they're goin', and hook up with them later.

-Mitch Hedberg

The jazz boom was goin' on then so there was a lot happenin' in New York at that time.

-Mose Allison

The first speaker left out the -g in the second going, but not in the first. Why? When would a native English speaker omit it and when not?

(I'm interested in both oral and written form. But I guess the written omission is just to represent the former?)

  • Do you mean when they change the pronunciation from [iŋ] to [in] or do you mean when they change the spelling from ‑ing to ‑in? The former is quite common, while the latter is used only to represent eye-dialect. This is one area where speech and writing have diverged. The picture is more complicated than this, and I feel we do have some questions on it already, but it’s late and I must sleep now.
    – tchrist
    Mar 11, 2015 at 5:07
  • Are you asking about when a writer writes "goin'", or are you asking about when a speaker pronounces "going" with a "n" at the end? (Practically no one says a "g" at the end of "going".)
    – Greg Lee
    Mar 11, 2015 at 5:08
  • 1
    The short answer is, whenever they feel like it. There are lots of reasons and a lot of them can't be guessed by an outside observer. If they wanted to enunciate clearly they might be more likely to leave it in, but even then a given regional dialect might be more likely to leave it off or vice versa.
    – Jim
    Mar 11, 2015 at 5:08
  • I updated the question.
    – wyc
    Mar 11, 2015 at 5:27
  • I think you're right that the written omission is generally used to represent the spoken. In writing, you'd virtually never omit the 'g' unless reproducing speech.
    – wys1wyg
    Mar 11, 2015 at 5:31

2 Answers 2


This is not a rule, but dropping the "g" happens much more often before a vowel.

  • Even when dropped in "going to" it's changed to "gonna" so than the "n" sound is before a vowel.
    – wys1wyg
    Mar 11, 2015 at 5:09
  • Oooh, and my favourite dropped "g" in "going" is when "I'm going to" is pronounced "I'ma" as in "I'ma getchoo."
    – wys1wyg
    Mar 11, 2015 at 5:37

Taking going as an example, I hear 3 pronunciations: (1) goin' [goɪn], (2) going [goiŋ], (3) [goin]. The forms in brackets are the pronunciations in phonetic notation. Notice that none of the pronunciations ends in phonetic [g]. There are two syllables in each of the pronunciations. The [ɪ] sound is the vowel of hit, tin, ... The [i] sound is the vowel of he, wheat, ... The [ŋ] sound is the nasal consonant in think -- there is no letter in conventional spelling that corresponds to it.

(1) is either a dialectal form or one used to indicate a casual conversational tone. (2) is the maximally distinct form you might use if you were worried about misunderstanding, but otherwise, I would almost never use it. (3) is my normal pronunciation and the one I often hear. An approximation in conventional spelling would be go-een.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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