Let’s learn how to pronounce the NG consonant sound in American English.
How to pronounce the NG /ŋ/ consonant
The NG consonant sound is a nasal consonant in American English. This means that the soft palate is lowered as you say this sound, and this allows the air to exit out of the nose. The NG consonant is also a voiced consonant, which means the vocal cords are turned on as you say it.
NG, NG, NG
To make this sound, the lips open and the back of the tongue lifts up to make contact with the soft palate. The front of the tongue is down, behind the bottom front teeth. The back of the tongue is in a wide shape.
You can feel the nasal vibration as you say this sound. Put your fingers on the sides of your nose and feel the buzz.
Watch an animation of the NG consonant sound. This animation was created from actual videos of a real person pronouncing the NG sound. The animation shows the side view of the person's face, and I slowed it down to half speed. Watch how the back of the tongue comes up to the soft palate while the soft palate moves down to allow air to escape out of the nose.
Let’s take a closer look at the NG consonant sound.
The NG /ŋ/ consonant: Up close and in slow motion
Here is the NG consonant in isolation. Notice how the back of the tongue comes up to the soft palate, and the front of the tongue is down.
Now the word wing. Again, notice the back of the tongue move up to make contact with the soft palate, and the front of the tongue remains down, touching the back of the bottom front teeth.
Now the word sang. Back of tongue moves up, front of tongue stays down.
It’s important to remember to relax the front of the tongue. The NG consonant is made with the back of the tongue only. If you’re having difficulty using the back of the tongue to make the NG consonant, try this trick:
Get a mirror and say the vowel AH.
Notice the soft palate moves up as you say AH, and the back of the tongue moves down.
Now while saying AH, lift the back of the tongue up to the soft palate to say NG.
AH - NG - AH - NG
You should see the soft palate move up and down and up and down as you transition from AH to NG.
The NG consonant only occurs at the end of words or syllables in American English. It never occurs at the beginning of words or syllables.
NG /ŋ/ consonant practice
Let’s practice a few words together. Say the words with me.
Sing, NG, sing
Anger, NG, anger
Bank, NG, bank
Thanks so much for practicing the NG consonant sound with me. I hope this video was helpful! But we don’t have to end the practice here - let’s keep working together! Check out the additional practice videos of the NG consonant sound in English Pro, my comprehensive online accent training community. The details on how to enroll in English Pro are in the description below. Thanks, and have a great day!