Words that end in “n” and “ng” can be difficult for some people to differentiate, especially those whose native language is Mandarin. Both sounds are made by closing off the path of the air in the mouth. The difference is that the "n" sound is made with the tip and blade of the tongue pressed against the roof of the mouth at the ridge behind the teeth (see illustrations below) and the "ng" sound is made with the back of the tongue pressed against the roof of the mouth in the middle back of the palate. Try saying "t" and then "n" to feel the location of the tongue in the front of the mouth. Now try saying "k" and then "ng" to feel the tongue in the back of the mouth. Listen to the recording below, and try saying the words with contrasting sounds at the end.
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Final "j" is sometimes mispronounced as the voiceless "ch" sound. "J" is made in the same location in the mouth as "ch," but you use your voice on the "j" sound. Listen to the contrasting words on the audio file below to hear the difference between the "ch" and "j" sounds at the ends of words.
Still having a hard time? Can you say "j" at the beginnings of words, as in the word "jump?" If so, try the phrase "a jump" (ay-jump), running the two words together. Say it slowly, then speed up. Eventually, leave off the "-ump" and you will be saying the word "age" with a final "j" sound. Use the recording below to practice.
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