24 Tongue Twisters in English for Practice That’s Fun and Challenging
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
Tongue twisters like the one above are a lot of fun to say—they’re also one of the best ways to practice English pronunciation.
Many tongue twisters don’t make sense. Some aren’t even complete sentences!
But they’re filled with English sounds for you to master and some interesting vocabulary lessons.
Below, I’ll get you started with 24 of my favorite tongue twisters in English.
- 24 Tricky Tongue Twisters in English
- How to Practice Pronunciation with English Tongue Twisters
- Where to Find More English Tongue Twisters
24 Tricky Tongue Twisters in English
I Scream, You Scream
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.
This English tongue twister is very well known!
Notice the similar sounds in “I scream” and “ice cream.” You’ll get practice with the s sound and the soft c sound.
Seventy-seven benevolent elephants.
For all of those having trouble with the v sound, this is the tongue twister for you.
Most of the vocabulary is self-explanatory (easy to figure out), but there’s one word that could confuse you:
Benevolent — kind, not selfish
Cooks cook cupcakes quickly.
This short tongue twister will help you with the hard k sound, like in “cook,” and the kw sound in “quickly.”
As for vocabulary, remember the following:
Quickly — fast
The Velvet Vest
Betty loves the velvet vest best.
Here you’ll get some practice with the b and v sounds, which can be challenging for some English learners.
And you might learn some vocabulary too:
Velvet — a soft material used for some clothes
Vest — a shirt without sleeves
This is easy because it’s so short. But it still might be a bit tricky!
Here, you’re practicing the difference between the r and l sounds.
A word you may not know is:
Rural — countryside (as in, not a city)
Vivacious Val vacuumed Violet’s very vivid vehicle.
Great practice for the v sound! There are also some short i sounds, like in “vivacious” and “vivid.”
As for vocabulary, these words might be new for you:
Vivacious — lively and full of energy
Vacuum — a loud tool used for cleaning the floor
Vivid — a very deep or bright color
Dull Dark Dock
To sit in solemn silence in a dull, dark dock
in a pestilential prison with a life-long lock,
awaiting the sensation of a short, sharp shock
from a cheap and chippy chopper on a big, black block.
This English tongue twister is filled with repeated sounds, including the consonant sounds d, l, s and b.
There are also more complicated sounds, such as the sh in “short, sharp shock” and the ch in “cheap and chippy chopper.” These two sounds are often incorrectly pronounced the same way by English learners.
For vocabulary, pay attention to the following words:
Dull — not bright or interesting
Pestilential — causing infections or diseases
Sensation — feeling
She sells seashells by the seashore.
This tongue twister is very popular. It will help you with the s and sh sounds.
And here are two vocabulary words for you:
Seashells — the hard things that some sea animals live in
Seashore — the beach
Green Grape Cakes
As he gobbled the cakes on his plate,
the greedy ape said as he ate,
the greener green grapes are,
the keener keen apes are
to gobble green grape cakes.
This one is good for saying the g, gr and n sounds, as well as the ee vowel sound, as in “greener green.”
There may be several words that are new to you:
Gobbled — ate quickly and noisily
Greedy — selfish (wanting everything for yourself)
Keen — eager (wanting something strongly)
Two Tibble Twins
The two Tibble twins tied tiny twine
to twelve teachers’ tipping trek tents.
This tongue twister almost exclusively (only) uses the t and tw sounds, so it’s great for learners struggling with those.
There are also several instances where the long i sound comes up, like in “tied tiny twine.”
Here’s a look at some new vocabulary:
Twins — two siblings born at the same time
Twine — a type of strong thread
Trek tents — a specific brand of tents (portable shelter used for camping)
Red lorry, yellow lorry.
Short but tricky. This is another English tongue twister for practicing the r and l sounds.
And here’s a British English vocabulary word for you:
Lorry — a big truck
A Big Black Bug
A big black bug
bit the big black bear,
but the big black bear
bit the bug back!
As you can see, there are lots of b sounds here. Go slow at first so you don’t get confused with the short i and short u sounds, as in “big” and “bug.”
One vocabulary note for this tongue twister:
Back — to do the same thing (That is: The bug bites. The bear bites back.)
If a Woodchuck Could Chuck Wood
How much wood would a woodchuck chuck
if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
He would chuck, he would, as much as he could,
and chuck as much wood as a woodchuck would
if a woodchuck could chuck wood.
Here, you get to practice the w sound, as well as that tricky ch sound, as in “woodchuck could chuck.”
You also get to practice the vowel sound in “could,” “wood” and “would.” As you can see, this sound can be made by different spelling combinations in English.
Some vocabulary words you might not be familiar with include:
Woodchuck — a groundhog (a type of rodent)
Chuck — to throw
Any noise annoys an oyster, but a noisy noise annoys an oyster most.
This sentence is perfect for students who need to practice the strange English oy sound, like in “noise annoys an oyster.”
Pay special attention to the following vocabulary word, which is used frequently by native English speakers:
Annoy — to bother or irritate someone
A Flea and a Fly
A flea and a fly flew up in a flue.
Said the flea, “Let us fly!”
Said the fly, “Let us flee!”
So they flew through a flaw in the flue.
One of the trickier consonant clusters is fl, making this tongue twister a great one for English learners.
As for vocabulary, there may be several words you don’t understand at first:
Flee — to run away
Flea — a tiny insect that drinks the blood of mammals
Flaw — an imperfection or weakness
Flue — the pipe or opening in a chimney
Frivolously fanciful Franny fried fresh fish furiously.
This one covers fr and l, two sounds that are commonly mispronounced by English learners.
There’s also a lot of great vocabulary in this one:
Frivolously — not seriously
Fanciful — unrealistic
Furiously — done in a very angry way
Pad Kid Poured
Pad kid poured curd pulled cod.
Here you can practice the p and k sounds, which are aspirated (followed by a puff of air) when they are at the beginning of words.
For extra practice, place your hand in front of your mouth while you say the tongue twister. If you’re making the p and k sounds correctly, you will be able to feel your breath on your hand.
As for vocabulary, pay attention to the following words:
Curd — a dairy product that’s made from milk
Cod — a type of fish
Betty Bought Some Butter
Betty bought some butter,
but the butter was bitter,
so Betty bought some better butter
to make the bitter butter better.
It’s clear that this one is great for practicing the b sound. It’s also perfect for those having trouble with the t and r sounds.
As for new vocabulary, there may only be one word you don’t know yet:
Bitter — a sharp taste that’s not sweet at all
Here’s a longer version performed by a native English speaker:
He threw three free throws.
The consonant clusters thr and fr come from the same place in the mouth, so they can be difficult for English learners to master.
You may be unfamiliar with this term:
Free throw — to shoot the ball without the other team in the way during a basketball game
Skunk on a Stump
A skunk sat on a stump and thunk the stump stunk,
but the stump thunk the skunk stunk.
This tongue twister is great for getting used to saying the consonant clusters st and sk.
This one has one potentially complicated word:
Stump — the part of a tree that’s left in the ground after you cut it down
I Slit a Sheet
I slit a sheet, a sheet, I slit.
Upon a slitted sheet, I sit.
This tongue twister teaches you the sl consonant cluster and the difficult sh sound, like in “sheet.”
You also get to practice the vowel sound ee, like in “sheet” and the i sound as in “sit” and “slit.”
Here’s one vocabulary word that could be tricky:
Slit — to make a thin, straight cut in something
The word slitted is the adjective form. It describes something that has been slit.
Be careful with this tongue twister! As you can hear below, it’s very easy to accidentally combine the “sh” and “it” sounds, resulting in a rude English word!
Fred and Ted
Fred fed Ted bread and Ted fed Fred bread.
This one can easily trip up native English speakers!
You’ll work on the f and t sounds, as well as the consonant clusters fr and br.
You likely recognize the vocabulary here, so just make sure to practice by saying the tongue twister slowly. Once you’ve got it, try to pick up the speed!
Through three cheese trees three free fleas flew.
While these fleas flew, freezy breeze blew.
Freezy breeze made these three trees freeze.
Freezy trees made these trees’ cheese freeze.
That’s what made these three free fleas sneeze.
This English tongue twister is particularly hard, even for native speakers.
You get to practice the consonant clusters fl and fr, as well as the z sound. You also get to tackle the difficult th sound in “these,” “three,” “that’s” and “through.”
Additionally, you’ll practice the ee sound in words like “fleas,” “freezy,” “cheese” and “these.”
Here’s a closer look at some vocabulary:
Breeze — a light wind
Freeze — when liquid is so cold that it turns into ice
Sixth sick Sheikh’s sixth sheep sick.
Even for a native English speaker, I find this tongue twister very tricky.
This one is very good for practicing the s sound. You also get the ks sound like in “sixth,” the sh sound like in “sheep” and the th sound like in “sixth.”
There’s probably only one word you may not be familiar with:
Sheikh — an elderly scholar or leader
Sheikh isn’t originally an English word. It comes from Arabic.
Listen to how hard this one is, even for native speakers!
How to Practice Pronunciation with English Tongue Twisters
If you want to focus on a specific sound in English, you can check out this table to find the right tongue twister:
|The Tongue Twister||Sounds to Practice|
|I Scream, You Scream||s, soft c|
|Cupcakes||kw, hard k|
|The Velvet Vest||b, v|
|Val Vacuumed||v, short i|
|Dull Dark Dock||d, l, s, b, sh, ch|
|Green Grape Cakes||g, gr, n, ee|
|Two Tibble Twins||t, tw, long i|
|The Lorries||r, l|
|A Big Black Bug||b, short i, short u|
|If a Woodchuck Could Chuck Wood||w, ch, ou|
|A Flea and a Fly||fl|
|Fanciful Franny||fr, l|
|Pad Kid Poured||p, k|
|Betty Bought Some Butter||b, t, r|
|Free Throws||thr, fr|
|Skunk on a Stump||st, sk|
|I Slit a Sheet||sl, sh, ee, short i|
|Fred and Ted||f, t, fr, br|
|Cheese Trees||fl, fr, z, th, ee|
|Sixth Sheep||s, ks, sh, th|
Here are some tips on how to make the most out of these tongue twisters:
- Repeat, repeat, repeat. You probably won’t pronounce everything correctly the first time. When it comes to tongue twisters, repetition is key (very important).
- Focus on articulation. Saying tongue twisters quickly is fun. But if you’re trying to learn the English sounds, forget speed and focus on saying everything clearly and correctly.
- Study mouth positioning. There might be certain English sounds you’ll struggle with because your mouth has never made those positions before. If you need guidance, check out icSpeech or Pronuncian.com.
- Use tongue twisters as a warm-up. Tongue twisters prepare your mouth for speaking clearly and correctly. Say a few before you give an English presentation or participate in a practice conversation to get prepared.
- Identify your weaknesses. Any tongue twister will be great pronunciation practice. However, you’ll get the most out of your time by focusing on the English sounds that are most difficult for you.
Where to Find More English Tongue Twisters
There are tons of great websites out there with tongue twisters in English, but here are some of my favorites:
- Fun With Words separates its options into categories, such as popular, funny or poetic.
- FluentU has some fun tongue twisters in its collection of English language videos, plus plenty of other ways to learn English, such as interactive subtitles and personalized quizzes.
- Beat by Beat Press has 40 different tongue twisters.
- Tongue-twister.net has a variety of long and short options totaling almost 600 different tongue twisters.
- PunME has 150 tongue twisters, plus fun and useful English resources like jokes, riddles and puns.
I hope you’ve had a lot of fun trying to master these tongue twisters in English. Keep practicing!