tongue twisters in english

24 Tongue Twisters in English for Fun Pronunciation Practice (Audio Included!)

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 because they’re filled with English sounds for you to master.

Below, I’ll get you started with 24 of my favorite tongue twisters in English. I’ll also explain the important vocabulary for each tongue twister, and you can practice along with the audio! 

Contents

Warm up with these beginner level tongue twisters: 

1. I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.

Notice the similar sounds in “I scream” and “ice cream.” This well-known tongue twister will help you practice the s sound and the soft c sound.

Vocabulary:

  • Scream — to say something or make a sound in a very loud voice
  • Ice cream — a frozen food that’s sweet and usually made of milk or cream 

2. 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.”

Vocabulary:

  • Cooks — people who cook, usually as a job 
  • Quickly — fast

3. Seventy-seven benevolent elephants.

For all of those having trouble with the sound, this is the tongue twister for you.

Vocabulary:

  • Benevolent — kind, not selfish
  • Elephants — large gray animals with tusks, a trunk and big ears

4. 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.

Vocabulary:

  • Velvet — a soft material used for some clothes
  • Vest — a shirt without sleeves

5. Truly rural.

This is short and sweet, but it can still be a bit tricky! Here, you’re practicing the difference between the r and l sounds.

Vocabulary:

    • Truly — really
  • Rural — countryside (as in, not a city)

6. 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.”

Vocabulary: 

  • Vivacious — lively and full of energy
  • Vacuum — a loud tool used for cleaning the floor
  • Vivid — a very deep or bright color

7. 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. It’s also common for English learners to mistakenly pronounce the sh in “short, sharp shock” and the ch in “cheap and chippy chopper” as the same. 

Vocabulary:

  • Dull — not bright or interesting
  • Pestilential — causing infections or diseases
  • Sensation — feeling

For more of a challenge, here are some intermediate tongue twisters: 

8. She sells seashells by the seashore.

This tongue twister is very popular. It will help you with the s and sh sounds.

Vocabulary:

  • Seashells — the hard things that some sea animals live in
  • Seashore — the beach

9. Frivolously fanciful Franny fried fresh fish furiously.

This one covers fr and l, two sounds that are commonly mispronounced by English learners.

Vocabulary:

  • Frivolously — not seriously
  • Fanciful — unrealistic
  • Furiously — done in a very angry way

10. 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 sound. It’s also perfect for those having trouble with the and sounds.

Vocabulary:

  • Butter — a soft, pale yellow food that’s made from milk, usually put on bread or used when cooking
  • Bitter — a sharp taste that’s not sweet at all

11. 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 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,” which can be made by different spelling combinations.

Vocabulary:

  • Woodchuck — a groundhog (a type of rodent)
  • Chuck — to throw

12. 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. 
They’re great!

This one is good for saying the g, gr and sounds, as well as the ee vowel sound, as in “greener green.”

Vocabulary:

  • Gobbled — ate quickly and noisily
  • Greedy — selfish (wanting everything for yourself)
  • Keen — eager (wanting something strongly)

13. The two Tibble twins tied tiny twine

to twelve teachers’ tipping trek tents. 

This tongue twister almost exclusively (only) uses the 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.”

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)

14. Red lorry, yellow lorry.

Short but tricky. This is another English tongue twister for practicing the r and l sounds.

Vocabulary:

  • Red — the same color as blood 
  • Lorry — a big truck
  • Yellow — the same color as lemons 

15. 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.”

Vocabulary:

  • Bite — to use one’s teeth or mouth to cut or chew something 
  • Back — to do the same thing (That is: The bug bites. The bear bites back.

16. 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.”

Vocabulary:

  • Annoy — to bother or irritate someone
  • Oyster — a type of shellfish that can often be eaten 

17. 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.

Vocabulary:

  • 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

18. Pad kid poured curd pulled cod.

Here you can practice the and sounds, which are aspirated (followed by a puff of air) when they are at the beginning of words.

Try placing your hand in front of your mouth while you say the tongue twister—you should be able to feel the breath on your hand when you’re making the p and k sounds. 

Vocabulary:

  • Curd — a dairy product that’s made from milk
  • Cod — a type of fish

19. 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.

Vocabulary:

  • Threw — past tense of “throw,” meaning to push an object out of your hand/s with force so it moves through the air
  • Free throw — to shoot the ball without the other team in the way during a basketball game

These advanced tongue twisters can be tough even for native English speakers: 

20. 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.

Vocabulary:

  • Fed — past tense of “feed,” meaning to give someone food 
  • Bread — a common type of food that’s made from flour and water 

21. Sixth sick Sheikh’s sixth sheep sick.

This one is very good for practicing the sound. You also get the ks sound like in “sixth,” the sh sound like in “sheep” and the th sound like in “sixth.”

Vocabulary: 

  • Sheikh — an elderly scholar or leader (originally an Arabic word)
  • Sick — not feeling well or not healthy 

22. 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.

Vocabulary:

  • Stump — the part of a tree that’s left in the ground after you cut it down
  • Thunk — to hit with a dull, flat sound

23. 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.”

Vocabulary: 

  • Slit — to make a thin, straight cut in something
  • Slitted — describes something that has been slit

24. 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, plus the difficult th sound in “these,” “three,” “that’s” and “through.”

Vocabulary:

  • Breeze — a light wind
  • Freeze — when liquid is so cold that it turns into ice

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 TwisterSounds to Practice
I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Creams, soft c
Seventy-Seven Benevolent Elephantsv
Cooks Cook Cupcakes Quicklykw, hard k
Betty Loves the Velvet Vest Bestb, v
Truly Ruralr, l
Vivacious Val Vacuumed Violet’s Very Vivid Vehiclev, short i
To Sit in Solemn Silence in a Dull, Dark Dockd, l, s, b, sh, ch
She Sells Seashells by the Seashores, sh
As He Gobbled the Cakes on His Plateg, gr, n, ee
The Two Tibble Twins Tied Tiny Twinet, tw, long i
Red Lorry, Yellow Lorryr, l
A Big Black Bugb, short i, short u
How Much Wood Would a Woodchuck Chuckw, ch, ou
Any Noise Annoys an Oysteroy
A Flea and a Fly Flew Up in a Fluefl
Frivolously Fanciful Franny Fried Fresh Fish Furiouslyfr, l
Pad Kid Poured Curd Pulled Codp, k
Betty Bought Some Butterb, t, r
He Threw Three Free Throwsthr, fr
A Skunk Sat on a Stump and Thunk the Stump Stunkst, sk
I Slit a Sheet, A Sheet, I Slitsl, sh, ee, short i
Fred Fed Ted Breadf, t, fr, br
Through Three Cheese Trees Three Free Fleas Flewfl, fr, z, th, ee
Sixth Sick Sheikh’s Sixth Sheep Sicks, ks, sh, th

Here are some tips on how to get 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 articulationSaying 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 shapes before. If you need guidance, check out icSpeech or Pronuncian.com.
  • Use tongue twisters as a warm-up. Tongue twisters prepare your mouth to speak 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, but you’ll get the most out of your time by focusing on the English sounds that are most difficult for you.

 

I hope you’ve had a lot of fun trying to master these tongue twisters in English. Keep practicing!

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