The /n/ sound is spelled with <n> or <nn>. The /ŋ/ sound is spelled with <ng>. The <ng> spelling is pronounced /ŋ/ when it occurs finally and when it is medial in longer words derived from verbs, such as banger or singing. In other longer words it is usually pronounced /ŋg/ as in single or longer. One exceptional case is hangar, a storage shed for aircraft, which is pronounced /'hæŋə/. The only minimal pair for the contrast between /ŋg/ and /ŋ/ is Bangor (town in Wales) versus banger.
In addition to the main list I have added pairs contrasting hyphenated compounds with present participles, such as sit-in/sitting. The -in suffix is a live morpheme, so more of these compounds could come into the language at any stage.
This is a contrast between an alveolar and a velar nasal continuant, both voiced. It can only occur medially or finally. It is a known problem for speakers of French, Italian, Russian, Greek and Arabic, and many other learners whose own language does not make this contrast will tend to pronounce <ng> as /ŋg/ in all cases.
Interesting pairs include:
The mean density value is very low at 0.4%. The lists make 51 semantic distinctions, a loading of 65%.
ban bang banning banging bans bangs banned banged banner banger banners bangers bobbin bobbing bowline bowling bruin brewing bun bung buns bungs Carolyn carolling clan clang clans clangs coffin coughing done dung dubbin dubbing Dublin doubling fan fang fans fangs goblin gobbling gone gong hand hanged Hanover hangover Hitchin hitching Hun hung illumine illuming jerkin jerking Jocelyn jostling kin king lupin looping mountain mounting muffin muffing muggins muggings mullein mulling muslin muzzling pan pang pans pangs pannikin panicking parkin parking pin ping pinned pinged pinning pinging pins pings pippin pipping puffin puffing ran rang ratlin rattling robin robbing Ron wrong ruin ruing run rung runs rungs sin sing sinner singer sinners singers sinning singing sins sings son sung tan tang tans tangs tannin tanning thin thing thins things tin ting tinned tinged tinning tinging tins tings ton tongue tonned tongued tonnes tongues virgin verging Welwyn welling win wing winning winging winner winger winners wingers wins wings wind wingedCompounds
buy-in buying drive-in driving drop-in dropping lead-in leading lie-in lying live-in living look-in looking love-in loving pull-in pulling run-in running sit-in sitting stand-in standing tie-in tying tie-pin typing trade-in trading walk-in walking write-in writing
John Higgins, Shaftesbury, 25 January 2013.