I wonder if the "g" in the -ing forms is pronounced. When I hear it it seems as if it's not pronounced sometimes or just slightly, though sometimes I've been told that I should pronounce "g" for example in "meeting" just to avoid saying "mitten".

So how should I pronounce "-ing"?

Sometimes -ing is written in an informal way as -in' such as:



Is the letter "g" in each case pronounced differently?

  • 10
    If your pronunciation of "meeting" sounds like "mitten" without the "g" I think you've got far more important things to worry about than whether you enunciate the letter "g". Commented Feb 29, 2012 at 18:32
  • 3
    Info on sociolinguistic aspects of g-dropping. Pronunciation-wise, there's actually no 'g' to drop.
    – Mitch
    Commented Feb 29, 2012 at 19:03

6 Answers 6


The 'g' in -ing is never pronounced. What is pronounced is the velar nasal consonant represented in IPA as [ŋ]. In some dialects, this is replaced by the alveolar nasal consonant represented in IPA as [n]. This is the phonetics that the -in' ending represents.

The difference between [ŋg] and just [ŋ] can be heard in the difference between the words finger and singer.

You should never use a [g] in meeting. Use [ŋ] (which is usually represented in English spelling as 'ng') and not [n], [ŋg], or [ng].

The local dialect in several regions of the U.S., and apparently in parts of Britain as well, uses [ɪn] rather than [ɪŋ] for the suffix -ing. This is sometimes spelled -in'. The people speaking these dialects can pronounce the consonant [ŋ] just fine; for example, singin' would be pronounced [sɪŋɪn]. For more information on this, see this dialect blog posting.

  • 1
    Great answer on what -ng really is, but doesn't really address how -in' is a rendering of the pronunciation of specific dialects and why/when a single speaker might actually use one or the other.
    – Nicole
    Commented Feb 29, 2012 at 18:52
  • 1
    @NickC: I believe it's nothin' more than phonetic laziness or sloppiness. The "-in" sound is simply easier to enunciate than the "-ing" sound. So, when we speak more carelessly and less eloquently, the "-ing" sound inadvertantly morphs into the easier "-in". At least, that's been my observation.
    – J.R.
    Commented Feb 29, 2012 at 21:19
  • 2
    @J.R.: Phonetic arguments based on “ease” don’t generally hold water.
    – Jon Purdy
    Commented Feb 29, 2012 at 21:42
  • 2
    @J.R.: Yes, 'g-dropping' is associated with informal/non-standard speech which is often culturally associated with lack of standard education. But difficulty in pronunciation does not equal formality. Standard 'r' articulation is difficult for everybody, but the snooty upperclass twits can't seem to be able to pronounce 'r' at all at the ends of words, just like the inner-city hip-hop thugs (both are 'r-dropping'= non-rhotic).
    – Mitch
    Commented Mar 1, 2012 at 14:37
  • 3
    It may be worth pointing out that the British Midlands accent does pronounce [ŋg] at the ends of words: sing is /siŋgᵊ/ -- it's almost two syllables with the [ᵊ] simply being the release of [g].
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Sep 1, 2014 at 6:44

Using an apostrophe in place of a "g" is an informal colloquiallism. It is usually found inside a quotation, suggesting the speaker did not use much care when enunciating. Specifically, it's used to indicate the verb was spoken such that the final "g" was omitted: "We were walkin' to the store, not botherin' nobody, when, all of a sudden, out o' nowhere, this guy starts a-hollerin' at us for no good reason!"

(It's similar to using o' in place of "of " - as found in the preceding example).

Sometimes it's also used in song titles, when the singer doesn't carefully enunciate the final "g" in an "-ing" verb (a la "Takin' Care of Business" and "The Times They Are a-Changin'").

  • Isn't it the pronunciation that is a colloquialism? The apostrophe is just a way of writing this pronunciation down. And as indicated elsewhere, saying the "g" is omitted only makes sense in reference to the spelling; phonetically, it is not an omission of a sound but an alteration of the [ŋ] sound to an [n] sound.
    – herisson
    Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 10:16

The velar nasal ng lost the final g in English around the end of the 16th century. The phenomenon is called ng-coalescence. From Wikipedia:

As a result of Ng-coalescence, Middle English [sɪŋɡ] sing came to be pronounced [sɪŋ]. As well as in word-final position, Ng-coalescence was applied also in cases where a verb ending in -ng was followed by a vowel-initial suffix, so *si***ng***ing* and *si***ng***er* also underwent the change.
Otherwise, word-internal -ng- did not undergo coalescence and the pronunciation [ŋg] was retained, as in finger and angle...
Some accents, however, do not show the full effects of Ng-coalescence...

However, in Romanian (a language I know) the g at the end is pronounced such as in the words: luɲg. Not all ng are ɲg such as kreangə , ungʲ . 1
Notes: 1) ŋ may appear or not in various languages. In some languages it cannot appear in the front position (e.g. English) or in the final position. In some languages it can appear in all positions.
See World Atlas of Languages.
2) ŋ can be seen as a phoneme or as an allophone of n before g or k
3) k remains next to ŋ in nk: tæɲk (English), taɲk, , mɨɲkare (Romanian)

ELU related question

  • Essentially you’re saying that English final [ŋ] is returning to [n] because there is no [g] phone there anymore to make [n] into [ŋ].
    – Jon Purdy
    Commented Feb 29, 2012 at 21:44
  • @Jon Purdy , no that is something different (g-dropping). What I wrote about is that [ŋg] becomes just [ŋ]. These two are different . Commented Feb 29, 2012 at 21:56
  • Okay, but the question is about the word-final phenomenon.
    – Jon Purdy
    Commented Feb 29, 2012 at 23:56
  • @Jon Purdy word-final phenomenon? One of the questions is quite general "So how should I pronounce "-ing"?". The OP is not sure how it should be pronounced. Commented Mar 1, 2012 at 1:00

Actually, in older stages of English, the -ing form was used only for the gerund, while the present participle had an "-end-" ending. The "-in'" ending in colloquial English, southern American English, and many British dialects is probably a leftover from this "-end-" inflection.


You never skip the 'g' in 'ing' within writing unless it is informal, however you are not required to skip the g in informal text. If you were to be typing an e-mail to your boss, for example, saying "I'm comin' in tomorrow" would be inappropriate. If you were speaking to a friend, unprofessionally, it would be perfectly okay to do such a thing.

When speaking, it usually comes natural to skip the 'g' in 'ing' regardless of setting or who your are with. To be quite honest, here in the south, skipping the 'g' is so common that it is simply part of a southern dialect.

I'm fairly certain there are no set rules on this sort of accenting; it's more about whether or not you are speaking loosely (about friends and family) or more strictly (teachers, superiors)


If you are a normal American, then you pronounce words like king, ring, and sing just as they appear. You also pronounce progressive verbs that end in ing, such as running and being, are essentially pronounced een at the end of the word, basically rhyming with seen, mean, lean, etc. There are some dialects of English where the g can barely be heard in progressives, but in contemporary English this is gone. The informal is to pronounce the ing not like een, but like in, thus rhyming with words like sin or fin. English only has a specific number of strict sounds that are pronounced, while dictionaries will include additional sounds, they are pretty much gone from most common dialects and accents of English. You will be considered a jerk, if you make a habit of trying to pronounce contemporary English words in archaic ways. English has evolved, this is why the word knight, which was once pronounced with the k sound, the gh was a throaty sound, and the I was pronounced like an e, is now pronounced like nite, but the old spelling managed to stick.

  • 3
    You are wrong about your whole een business. And about “just as they appear”. And about “normal American”. And about the g ever being heard even barely. And about “archaic”. And probably more, but you just exceeded the too-many-errors-in-post threshold of five blatant errors. This is not an answer, but a peeve.
    – tchrist
    Commented Aug 31, 2014 at 22:23
  • 1
    If you're a normal Californian, maybe. But most of the U.S. doesn't speak like this. Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 10:46

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