English Jade: Practice Soft /g/

We will learn the pronunciation and spelling of soft <g> words, in this pronunciation lesson podcast. These are words that are spelt with a letter ‘g’ but pronounced with a /dʒ/ sound. Example soft <g> words include ‘gem’, ‘giant’ and ‘giraffe’.

The /dʒ/ sound is in my name, ‘Jade Joddle’ /eɪd ɒd.əl/. As you can see from the example of my name, the /dʒ/ sound is most commonly spelt with a letter ‘j’ in English.

However, the /dʒ/ sound is also spelt with a letter ‘g’ in some words. When this occurs, it is called a soft <g>. Here are some examples:

general                    /ˈdʒen.ər.əl/

giant                         /ˈdʒaɪ.ənt/

gym                           /dʒɪm/

age                             /eɪdʒ/

digit                          /ˈdɪdʒ.ɪt/ 

manage                   /ˈmæn.ɪdʒ/

Non-native speakers of English often mispronounce words with the letter ‘g’ in them because they don’t know the soft <g> and hard <g> rules of pronunciation. 

Hard <g> Versus Soft <g> Pronunciation Rules

The letter ‘g’ is pronounced in two ways; /g/ as in ‘get’ or /ʤ/ as in ‘gin’. This distinction is often referred to as ‘hard g’ and ‘soft g’. The rules are:

  • Hard g /g/ before a, o, or u spelling
    • Soft g /ʤ/ before e, i, or y spelling
    • But note: there are many exceptions to the rule!
Pronunciation Practice: ‘The Grand Canyon is a large gorge’

Practice Soft ‘g’: Some Examples from the Lesson Recording

allergic: allergic reaction

▶︎ Having an allergy to something, such as shellfish, causes a person to to get itchy or have breathing problems because of being exposed to a food or substance their body can’t tolerate.

gigantic: gigantic giraffe

▶︎ Something that is ‘gigantic’ (adj) is extremely large. Note that the first letter <g> in this word is a soft <g> and the second one is a hard <g> /dʒɑɪˈɡæn·tɪk/.

energetic: energetic gym session

▶︎ Being ‘energetic’ (adj) means having or involving a lot of energy.

large: large gorge

▶︎ A ‘gorge’ is a valley that has steep sides, such as the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Note that the first letter <g> in this word is hard <g> and the second one is a soft <g> /gɔːʤ/

genetic: genetic engineering

▶︎ ‘genetic engineering’ is the process of altering the genes of a living organism to change it.

Extend Your Learning: More Soft ‘g’ Words

Learn advanced-level words containing soft ‘g’ HERE.

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