The j sound, spelled j, dge ge, and g(i)

The j sound is an affricate and is a voiced ch sound. Don't let the various spellings for this sound confuse you!


Hi everyone, and welcome back to Seattle Learning Academy's American English Pronunciation Podcast. My name is Mandy, and this is our 90th podcast.

Two weeks ago I talked about the ch sound (ch sound). Today I'm going to explain a related sound, the j sound (j sound) as in the words jump, strange and giant.

The ch sound and j sound are both affricates. An affricate is a type of sound created when we stop all the air from leaving the vocal tract, and then, when we release the air, we do it with friction, or a little extra sound. English has only two affricate sounds, the ch sound and j sound. The only difference between the ch sound and j sound is voicing. The ch sound is unvoiced, and the j sound is voiced.

You can feel the difference between voiced and unvoiced sounds by placing a finger or two against the front of your neck. You will feel the vibration of a voiced sound, but not the unvoiced sounds. That vibration is created by your vocal cords. Feel both of these sounds:

(ch sound, j sound, ch sound, j sound)

Be careful. If you add a vowel sound to the ch sound, and say it like cha, you will be adding a voiced sound to the ch sound, and you'll feel the vibration of that sound, which may confuse you. The ch sound is pronounced as (ch sound) and the j sound as (j sound). The sounds aren't cha and ja, but simply (ch sound) and (j sound).

I hope you remember form two weeks ago that the ch sound began with the tongue in the same position as a t sound. Since the j sound is a voiced ch sound, it should not be a surprise that the j sound begins by stopping the air with the tongue in the same position as the d sound (j sound).

With the j sound, just like with the ch sound, the stop is released with friction. That friction, if I were to hold it, would sound like (zh sound). If I combine (d sound) and (zh sound), I get (j sound), the j sound.

There is also a spelling concept that is the same between the ch sound and j sound. The ch sound can be spelled tch, as in the words watch and catch. There is no additional t sound in those words. It is only a ch sound. The j sound has a similar concept in the dge spelling, as in the words judge and bridge. Although we see the letter d there, we do not add an extra d sound to the word. The dge spelling is pronounced as just the j sound.

There is obviously no letter j in the words strange or giant, yet they are pronounced with a j sound. The letter g, when followed by the letters e or i, are generally pronounced as the j sound. So the words strange and giant are both pronounced with the j sound.

We're going to do two sets of practice today, one is just the j sound with it's various spellings, then we'll practice a few minimal sets between the j sound and ch sound.

Repeat the following words after me.

j sound spelled j:


j sound spelled dge:


j sound spelled ge or gi:

gentle magic charge

Here is the minimal set practice between the ch sound and j sound. I'll say the word with the ch sound first:

choke, joke
chunk, junk
rich, ridge

As a quick review, here are the key points to remember about the j sound:

  • a j sound is a voiced ch sound
  • there is no additional d sound when the j sound is spelled dge
  • ge and gi are also common j sound spellings

That's all for today everyone. Don't forget you can find transcripts for this, and all of our shows, at, and you can follow us on Twitter, username pronuncian, to get all the updates on new Pronuncian content as well as other interesting English bits.

This has been a Seattle Learning Academy digital publication. Seattle Learning Academy is where the world comes to learn.


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About the ESL/ELL Teacher

Mandy has been teaching ESL, pronunciation and accent reduction since 2005 at Seattle Learning Academy, an English language school in Seattle, Washington, USA. She uses her experience with intermediate to advanced students to create the topics that most affect students living and working in the United States and can help them communicate better and more clearly.

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