OK, I know that I will never pronounce "g" in "ing".

But what should I do in situations like "going out"?

When I say it, it seems that I pronounced "g". There are other situations like this but this one happens more often than others.

  • Why will you never pronounce "g" in -ing? – Catija May 5 '15 at 15:24
  • It's not that I completely omit it, but I do not say "g" clearly as in the work "gap" – sandalone May 5 '15 at 15:27
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    AmE here. The degree to which the "g" is pronounced depends on the context, the speed of speech, the accent of the speaker, the particular word being pronounced, and the word that follows. I doubt there are many speakers who never pronounce it; nor are there many speakers who always pronounce it. Imagine your phrase said with disbelief: "You're doing what? You're going out??" <--Here I pronounce the "g" very clearly. VS: "I'm going out to the store - do you want me to pick anything up for you?" <-- Here the "going out" is not emphasized, and will sound like "go-wi-nout." – Adam May 5 '15 at 15:37
  • @Adam You're saying that emphasis on "g" in "going out" means my anger? Like father talking to a daughter? While in casual speech, you can omit it. – sandalone May 5 '15 at 16:03

The statement that you 'never pronounce "g" in "-ing" refers to the sound /g/. The spelling ‹ng› almost never involves the sound /g/. ‹ng› is a 'digraph' (like ‹th›)—in almost all cases it represents the sound /ŋ/, the consonant at the end of sing, hang, long.

So there is no actual /g/ sound in the -ing suffix. In speech, however, pronunciation alternates between "standard" /ŋ/ and a more casual /n/. This is sometimes written with an apostrophe, singin’, hangin’, goin’, to emphasize that the pronunciation is casual or dialectal, and in non-technical discussion this is often called "dropping the g"—but it is "dropped" only from the spelling!

Either /ŋ/ or /n/ is acceptable in speech with the -ing suffix, and usually nobody will notice which you employ.

The sound /ŋ/ does transition to /g/ in a few words such as linger (/lɪŋgər/) and hunger (/hʌŋgər/). The /g/ sound is obligatory in those words. To the best of my knowledge, however, this occurs only in the middle of words, never at the end. Some dialects expand this transition to situations where a word ending in /ŋ/ takes a suffix starting with a vowel; many New Yorkers for instance, pronounce singing as /sɪŋgiŋ/. But I've never encountered this across word boundaries.

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  • Thanks for the detailed explanation. It expanded my knowledge on "ing", but did not help much. I guess I could not get straight answer to this. The pronunciation of this is too vague I guess and depends on many unpredicted factors (like Adam mentioned). – sandalone May 5 '15 at 16:05
  • @sandalone Does this rewrite help? – StoneyB on hiatus May 5 '15 at 16:29
  • @sandalone Consider maybe the difference between "finger" and "singer," only in the first does g have a separate sound. We never say finger as we do singer. (Ah, okay, just now I see the small print in StoneyB's example of linger...) – user6951 May 6 '15 at 2:21

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