John Larrysson's Column: Common G Spelling Patterns


There are certain regular spelling patterns for words with the letter G. A hard G is commonly blended in GL and GR. Words with such a blend come both from Old English and Old French. Usually the more common words are from Old English. Examples from Old English include: (The original spelling is in brackets.) glad (glæd), glass (glæs), grass (græs) and green (grene). Examples from Old French include: glue (glu), globe (globe), grace (grâce) and grammar (gramaire, modern French grammaire).

audio 1

These blends are most often found at the beginning of a root word. They are less commonly found in the middle of a word. Such words, with a blend in the middle, come from a variety of languages. These include: Old English: angle (i.e. to fish with a hook - angel), Old French: bugle (bugle), Old Danish: dangle (dangle), Gaelic: Douglas (Dubh glas) and Inuit: igloo (iglu). The GR and GL blends are not normally found at the end of English words.

audio 2

The letter G

The letter G is usually found at the beginning, or in the middle, of a word. Most English words ending in the letter G are actually ending in NG which is a digraph for an entirely different sound. It should be treated as a different letter. (

G (not NG) at the end of a word is usually hard (and comes after a short vowel). These words usually come from Old Norse, Old English or related languages. Old Norse examples include: bag (baggi), big (bugge) and leg (leggr). Old English examples include: beg (bedecian), bug (bugge), frog (frogga) and drag (dræge). Other sources include: Gaelic: bog (bogach) and crag (i.e. a big rock - crec). The French soft-G is rarely used at the end of an English word.

The blends GL and GR are usually at the beginning of a word. NG is most common at the end of words. G (not NG) at the end of a word is usually hard.

audio 3

Other Phonics Articles:

How We Got Hard And Soft G

-ING Endings


PH in Suffixes and Prefixes

The F sound: FF & GH

The F Sound

The Oi/Oy Sound

Silent D Is Not Always Silent




Stranger Pronunciations of C


The Letter C is Useless

The letter B

The aw-sound

The Schwa Sound

The Magic-e

The Letter A a


by John Larrysson

[email protected]

A native English speaker who has been teaching practical English in Hong Kong for over two decades.


NOTE:Starting in 2016, this column has been published once every two weeks, on every other Tuesday.

General Enquiry: We welcome enquiries and feedback. Please contact us through [email protected]