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32 Challenging French Tongue Twisters

Tongue twisters, or virelangues in French, can also be a great way to learn a language.

They force you to slow down and really pronounce each syllable and each word. Only then can you move onto saying the entire French tongue twister in one go.

A great side effect of reading these classic tongue twisters is that they’ll improve your pronunciation and they’ll help you to speak lightning fast French like the natives. After all, French children used them, too!

Read on for 32 French tongue twisters for beginners, intermediate learners and then some advanced ones, all with audio so you can hear them pronounced correctly.


French Tongue Twisters for Beginners

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You’ve got to start somewhere with French tongue twisters, so these relatively easy beginner level phrases are a great place to start. Remember: pronounce every word correctly before moving on to the next word. Then read them again until they sound smooth and clear.

1. Si mon tonton tond ton tonton, ton tonton sera tondu.

If my uncle shaves your uncle, your uncle will be shaven.

This tongue twister capitalizes on the similarities between ton (your) tonton (uncle) and tond (to shave). These three words are pronounced exactly the same in French, so the sentence calls for nine repetitions of the same sound at once.

2. Cinq chiens chassent six chats.

Five dogs hunt six cats.

This sentence offers an additional difficulty for non-native speakers with the introduction of nasal sounds. French has four nasal sounds, and this sentence introduces two of them with cinq and chiens.

3. Un chasseur sachant chasser sait chasser sans son chien.

A hunter who knows how to hunt can hunt without his dog.

4. Les chaussettes de l’archiduchesse sont-elles sèches, archi-sèches ?

Are the archduchess’s socks dry, very dry?

5. Trois tortues trottaient sur un trottoir très étroit.

Three turtles were trotting on a very narrow sidewalk.

6. Combien de pièces sont cachées dans cette soucoupe ?

How many coins are hidden in this saucer?

7. Les œufs frais sont frais, les œufs cuits sont cuits.

Fresh eggs are fresh, cooked eggs are cooked.

8. Qui sont ces six singes suisses?

Who are these six Swiss monkeys?

9. Quand un pingouin prend un goûter, les autres pingouins prennent un goûter, et ça fait beaucoup de goûters pour les pingouins.

When one penguin has a snack, the other penguins have a snack, and that makes a lot of snacks for the penguins.

10. Vingt vins blancs bien sucrés.

Twenty very sweet white wines.

11. Si ces six saucissons-ci sont si secs, ces six saucissons-ci sont donc des saucissons secs.

If these six sausages are so dry, then these six sausages are dry sausages.

12. Un ver vert va vers le verre vert.

A green worm goes towards the green glass.

13. Six chiens chassent six chats sous six chênes verts.

Six dogs chase six cats under six green oaks.

14. Le blé sèche, le blé ciré.

The wheat dries, the waxed wheat.

15. Son chat chante sa chanson.

His cat sings his song

Here’s a great short video featuring six classic beginner French tongue twisters, pronounced by a native:

Fun French Tongue Twisters for Intermediate Learners

A group of friends hiking in the French Alps stop to tell a joke and laugh

If the tongue twisters in our beginners section are starting to seem easy, move on to trying to pronounce these intermediate level French tongue twisters.

16. Je suis ce que je suis, et si je suis ce que je suis, qu’est-ce que je suis ?

I am what I am, and if I am what I am, what am I ?

Instead of having several words containing the same sound, this sentence repeats several words in different orders. Je  (I), suis  (am), ce  (that), que  (which), qu’est-ce  (what), si (if).

17. As-tu vu le ver vert allant vers le verre en verre vert ?

Did you see the green worm going towards the green glass glass ?

This tongue twister operates on the same principle as the previous one— vert (green), ver (worm) and vers (towards) are all pronounced the same way.

18. Ces cerises sont si sûres qu’on ne sait pas si c’en sont.

These cherries are so sour, we’re not sure if they are (cherries).

The ss sound appears yet again, though this time it isn’t paired with the sh sound but rather with a variety of vowels. Of particular interest for non-native speakers is the c’en sont  at the end of the sentence, which is a false homophone pair for some languages.

19. Cinq gros rats grillent dans la grosse graisse grasse.

Five fat rats grill in the big, fatty fat.

Even in English this one is hard to say! We’ve abandoned the ss sound for one of the French sounds that’s hardest for Anglophone learners to produce: R. 

In this case, it’s often paired with for a GR sound that repeats with several different vowel sounds. Practice this one, and your merci will sound native before too long!

20. Fruits cuits, fruits crus, c’est sûr, c’est très sûr.

Cooked fruits, raw fruits, it’s sure, it’s very sure.

21. Quand un crocodile rencontre un crabe, il lui craque la carapace, et quand un crabe rencontre un crocodile, il lui coupe la queue.

When a crocodile meets a crab, it cracks its shell, and when a crab meets a crocodile, it cuts its tail.

22. Trois gros rats gris dans trois gros trous ronds rongent trois gros morceaux de pain rond.

Three big gray rats in three big round holes gnaw on three big pieces of round bread.

23. Je suis ce que je suis et si je suis ce que je suis, qu’est-ce que je suis ?

I am what I am, and if I am what I am, what am I?

24.  Cinq gros corbeaux sur le dos de cinq gros chevaux dans les champs.

Five big crows on the back of five big horses in the fields.

25. Pauvre petit pêcheur, prends patience pour pouvoir prendre plusieurs petits poissons.

Poor little fisherman, have patience to catch several little fish.

To hear some more intermediate French tongue twisters pronounced, check out this helpful video:

Advanced French Tongue Twisters

A group of female friends stops and laughs on the street

Once you’ve gotten the hang of the tongue twisters for beginners and intermediate learners, it’s time for a new challenge!

26. Je veux et j’exige du jasmin et des jonquilles.

I want and I insist upon jasmine and jonquils.

This one has a lot going for it in terms of difficulty. From the very beginning, a liaison is required between je veux and j’exige, so that the sentence sneaks another z sound into the end of veux. 

27. Ces six saucissons secs sont si secs qu’on ne sait si c’en sont.

These six dried sausages are so dry that we don’t know if they are (dried sausages).

28. Un chasseur sachant chasser chasse sans son chien.

A hunter who knows how to hunt hunts without his dog.

This tongue twister is a more advanced version of one we’ve seen earlier – the one with dogs hunting cats. If you’ve perfected the earlier version, it’s time to move on to bigger and better things!

29. Je dis que tu l’as dit à Didi ce que j’ai dit jeudi.

I say that you said [it] to Didi what I said Thursday.

30. La roue sur la rue roule; la rue sous la roue reste.

The wheel on the road rolls; the road under the wheel rests.

31. Bonjour madame la saucissière, combien vendez-vous ces six saucisses-là ? Je les vends six sous, six sous ci, six sous ça, six sous ces six saucisses-là.

Good day madam sausage-seller, how much are those six sausages? I sell them for six sous [old French monetary unit], six sous here, six sous there, six sous the sausages there.

32. Je suis ce que je suis et si je suis ce que je suis, qu’est-ce que je suis ?

I follow what I am and if I follow what I am, what am I/what am I following? 

Here’s a great video on advanced French tongue twisters:

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How to Achieve a Perfect French Accent with Tongue Twisters

The very idea of a tongue twister is to create a phrase that’s difficult to say…even for a native speaker. So, it’s no surprise that tongue twisters can help language learners master the unfamiliar sounds of French.

Tongue twisters force you to repeat unfamiliar sounds, and because they’re within a sentence instead of isolated in words, you’ll get a better idea of what it’s like to speak in full sentences.

That is the goal of your French learning, right?

Here are some ways you can get the most out of these tongue twisters:

  • Ask a native French speaker to say the words properly. Ideally, you can record the native speaker and then mimic them. This is a great job for a language exchange partner.
  • Start off slowly. When you try a new tongue twister, be sure to carefully and accurately pronounce each word, even if it takes you a while.
  • Break it all down. You are bound to have trouble with some words or phrases in these tongue twisters – even native speakers do! When you find yourself stumbling, isolate the tricky part and repeat it until you’ve gotten it down perfectly. Then, move on and tie everything together. 
  • Speed things up. After you’ve gotten used to what you are meant to say, try saying the sentences more and more quickly. Soon, you’ll be rattling them off rapid-fire!

So there you have it! Perfecting tongue twisters can be a fun way to practice your accent. Once you’ve mastered a few of these, you’ll find more traditional sentences far more easily spoken!

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