Identify N vs. NG

In this American English pronunciation video, we’re going to test your ability to identify the N and NG sounds.

I’ve already done some work on the N and NG, but, to recap: the N sound is made when the front part of the tongue reaches up and touches just behind the front teeth: nn, nn. The NG is made at the back of the mouth: ng, ng. The back part of the tongue reaches up and touches here. The soft palate comes down to meet it, ng. The tip of the tongue remains forward and down. So, the two positions are very different. N: nn, and NG: ng. In this video, you’re going to see words with no sound, and I want you to guess if it ends in an N or an NG. Because the positions are so different, it should be very easy to see.

What is the final position you see here? You see a good bit of the tongue with the tongue tip down, that means the tongue is up in the back, so it must be the NG. Watch again.


What position is this? Looks like the tongue tip is up at the roof of the mouth. Let’s watch again, and see if you can see the tongue flick up at the end. It must be an N.


What position is this? The mouth looks dark inside. That must mean what’s happening is happening at the back. So, it must be an NG.


Hmm. It’s hard to tell what’s going on here, as the jaw is quite closed. But, it does look like the tongue tip is down, and the tongue is raised in the back. That must be NG.


What sound is this? It’s pretty clear that the tongue tip is raised, touching the roof of the mouth. That must be an N. On.Again, it’s quite clear that the tongue tip is raised, touching the roof of the mouth. This must be an N.


The space inside the mouth is dark, it’s a bit hard to see what’s happening. That must mean the tongue is raising in the back, and not in the front. So, this must be an NG.


Here, after having said this would be an easy exercise, I see it’s not so easy. Again, there’s not much jaw drop here. Yet, it does look like the tongue is down in the front and raised in the back. So, it must be an NG.


You can see the tongue tip raised in the front, touching the roof of the mouth. This is an N.

Done.Here it’s clear: tongue up in the back, down in the front. It’s an NG sound.


Did you see the tongue tip come up? I think I did, too. In that case, it must be an N.

Let’s watch again. Fine.How did you do? If it was easy for you to tell the difference, then I hope it will be easy for you to pronounce them differently as well. A lot of people have difficulty with ending in an N vs. an NG. If you’re one of those people, practice with a mirror lists of words and watch your mouth to make sure it takes the correct position.

That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.

Don’t stop there. Have fun with my real-life English videos. Or get more comfortable with the IPA in this play list. Learn about the online courses I offer, or check out my latest video.

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N vs. NG

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