American English Pronunciation The Letter G

How to pronounce the letter G

American English pronunciation the letter G

American English pronunciation the letter G

This week, one of my accent reduction coaching clients was a bit surprised to realize that when the letter G occurs at the beginning of a word, it can have a soft sound or a hard sound.

The sounds of the letter G

In American English pronunciation the letter G sometimes has a soft /ʤ/ sound .

The letter G sometimes has a hard /g/ sound.

Here are the rules

The letter G has a soft /ʤ/ sound at the beginning of these words:

  • giant
  • genuine
  • gym
  • generous

Listen here 

 

The letter G has a hard /g/ sound at the beginning of these words:

  • go
  • gave
  • get
  • gone
  • gigabyte

 Listen here 

 

Why does the G have different sounds?

Some of the reasons for the different sounds are historic.

  1. Most words of Germanic origin (gift, get, got) begin with a hard /g/ sound.
  2. Most words of Greek origin (gymnasium, gymnastics) begin with a soft /ʤ/ sound.
  3. Most words of Romance origin (geography, giant, general) begin with a soft /ʤ/ sound.

BTW~ if you work in technology, the word gigabyte is pronounced with two hard Gs. The prefix, “giga” comes from a Greek word meaning “giant.”

 Arabie, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, Bengali, Telegu & Gujarati Speakers

In my experience as an accent reduction coach, Spanish speakers, Arabic speakers, French speakers, Japanese speakers, Korean speakers and some Indian English speakers have problems articulating the soft g sound /ʤ/.

Learn more

To learn more about the sounds of the letter G, follow the link below to read an entertaining article about this sound.

Sounds of the letter G

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