27 German Tongue Twisters To Perfect Your Accent

Remember tripping over tongue twisters as a kid?

Tongue twisters, or Zungenbrecher , are a fantastic way to train your tongue in German pronunciation

It’s not only language learners who use tongue twisters. Even speech therapists use them to help train native speakers, so you’re in good company.

Read on to find 27 German tongue twisters to get you started!

Contents

27 German Tongue Twisters to Help Perfect Your German Accent

Easy German Tongue Twisters

1. In Ulm, um Ulm, um Ulm herum.

Literal Translation: In Ulm, around Ulm, all around Ulm.

Difficulty Level: 3

None of the sounds in this sentence should be difficult for American tongues. The trick is being able to slip in the where needed.

It’s one of the easier tongue twisters on this list, but it’s probably the most fun to say at full speed!

2. Acht alte Ameisen aßen am Abend Ananas.

Literal Translation: Eight old ants ate pineapples in the evening.

Difficulty Level: 4

Again, this one shouldn’t be too difficult. The main point is being able to say all those a sounds in such a short span of time.

One benefit of this twister is getting your brain used to pronouncing the German as ah—unlike an American ay sound.

3. Brautkleid bleibt Brautkleid und Blaukraut bleibt Blaukraut.

Literal Translation: A wedding dress will always be a wedding dress and red cabbage will always be red cabbage.

Difficulty Level: 4

All those b sounds are the potential pitfalls here. There’s also a sneaky br in there. Germans usually roll their r when it follows a consonant, something which is uncommon in English and can be difficult for an English speaker to pronounce correctly.

Once you’ve nailed it in this tongue twister, it’ll come naturally in your spoken German.

4. Zehn Ziegen zogen zehn Zentner Zucker zum Zoo.

Literal Translation: Ten goats carried ten hundredweight of sugar to the zoo.

Difficulty Level: 4

This twister contains repeated z sounds and the ts sound in  Zentner (hundredweight). Once you get the z down pat (through lots of practice!), this one will be a piece of cake.

Moderately Difficult German Tongue Twisters

5. Fischers Fritze fischt frische Fische; Frische Fische fischt Fischers Fritze.

Literal Translation: Fritz, the fisherman’s son, fishes for fresh fish; For fresh fish fishes Fritz, the fisherman’s son.

Difficulty Level: 5

Okay, so there’s a lot going on in this one. Continually switching between the fi and fri sounds is hard enough, but there’s also the tricky sche which non-native speakers often struggle with. To tackle this one, take each word separately.

Once you can pronounce each individual word without any problems, begin to pair them up. Eventually, you’ll be able to build up and say one sentence all at once. As your confidence rises, speed it up and impress your friends!

6. Im dichten Fichtendickicht sind dicke Fichten wichtig.

Literal Translation: In the thick spruce thicket thick spruces are important.

Difficulty Level: 5

For this tongue twister, you need to be able to differentiate between ch and ck. The former is more of a guttural sound, one which we don’t have in English, like how the Scottish pronounce the -ch in “loch.” The latter sound is pronounced just as we would say it.

It can be tricky interchanging these as quickly as is needed in this phrase but, as with all tongue twisters, speed is the key! Start off slowly and build it up until you can say it like a native.

7. Hundert hungrige Handwerker haben Heißhunger auf Hamburger.

Literal Translation: One hundred hungry craftsmen are super hungry for hamburgers. 

Difficulty Level: 5

This twister not only contains a lot of h, but also similar-sounding words in quick succession. To master this one, practice saying the individual words quickly, then together.

8. Fünf Fliegen auf einem Felsen, fünf Fliegen fliegen fort.

Literal Translation: Five flies on a rock, five flies fly away.

Difficulty Level: 5

So much alliteration and fl, f and ff sounds! Luckily, there are at least two components to this twister ( Fünf Fliegen auf einem Felsen and fünf Fliegen fliegen fort ).

Try to practice one part at a time until you’re comfortable saying them together.

9. Furcht vor Fruchtfleisch führt zu Flucht vor Fruchtfleisch.

Literal Translation: Fear of fruit pulp leads to fleeing from fruit pulp.

Difficulty Level: 5

The “f” sounds continue! Here, you’re constantly switching between open vowel sounds and subtle consonant sounds after the “f”. Watch out too for the difference between the more open u-sound and the more compressed ü-sound!

10. Der Dachdecker deckt dein Dach, drum dank dem Dachdecker, der dein Dach deckt.

Literal Translation: The roofer roofs your roof, so thank the roofer who roofs your roof.

Difficulty Level: 6

Look at that alliteration! And it’s so often used in English tongue twisters too.

There aren’t any overly complicated sounds in this one. It just requires perseverance to get over all those sounds. If you slow things down from the start, you’ll be singing it before long.

11. Bierbrauer Bauer braut braunes Bier.

Literal Translation: Beer brewing farmers brew brown beer.

Difficulty Level: 6

So many sounds! This one ups the ante along with its br pronunciation.

To master this one, take the words  Bierbrauer (brewer), braut (brew) and  braunes (brown) on their own and learn their pronunciations separately. Once you’ve conquered them individually, join the sentence back together and slowly take it on as a whole.

12. Wenn Fliegen hinter Fliegen fliegen, fliegen Fliegen Fliegen nach.

Literal Translation: When flies fly behind flies, flies fly after flies.

Difficulty Level: 6

The repeated f and fl sounds, along with the alliteration, can trip up non-native speakers. Just keep an eye out for the four words that aren’t fliegen (fly), and you should be good.

13. Zwei zottelige Ziegen zogen Zement durch die Zone.

Literal Translation: Two shaggy goats dragged cement through the zone.

Difficulty Level: 6

This twister includes repeating z and zz sounds, which can be tricky to pronounce quickly without mixing them up. Practice ziegen (goats)  zogen (pulled) and  zone (zone) in particular, and this won’t cause you too much trouble. 

14. In einem Schokoladenladen kaufen brave Schokoladenmädchen feinste Schokolade.

Literal Translation: In a chocolate shop, good chocolate girls buy the finest chocolate.

Difficulty Level: 6

All those sch, d and m sounds can really do a number on your tongue! I suggest practicing Schokoladenladen (chocolate shop), Schokoladenmädchen (chocolate girls) and Schokolade (chocolate) before saying this one in its entirety.

Challenging German Tongue Twisters

15. Am Zehnten Zehnten um zehn Uhr zehn zogen zehn zahme Ziegen zehn Zentner Zucker zum Zoo.

Literal Translation: On October 10th at 10:10, 10 tame goats pull 10 centners (antiquated European weight unit) of sugar to the zoo.

Difficulty Level: 7

The goats are back again! And this time, they’ve brought even more z‘s with them.

Once you master the German z, it’s relatively easy to say—you just have to imagine that there’s an imaginary t in front of it, so you pronounce it as ts. This tongue twister becomes slightly easier to rattle off once you know this trick!

16. Graben Grabengräber Gruben?
Graben Grubengräber Gräben?
Nein!
Grabengräber graben Gräben.
Grubengräber graben Gruben.

Literal Translation: Do gravediggers dig ditches?
Do ditchdiggers dig graves?
No!
Gravediggers dig graves.
Ditchdiggers dig ditches.

Difficulty Level: 7

There are lots of vowel sounds jumping around in this mini poem-like twister. The umlaut on some of the a‘s changes their sound from ah to ay. Once you know this, the tongue twister becomes much simpler.

There are still some r sounds that need rolling. But if you’re this far down the list, you’ll have met them already!

17. Rund um den runden Rasen rasen Hasen, rasen Hasen rund um den runden Rasen.

Literal Translation: Around the round lawn, hares race, hares race around the round lawn.

Difficulty Level: 7

Switching between r and ra sounds rapidly can be a challenge! Conquering this twister can take a while—namely, practicing each word individually—but that effort is worth it.

18. Kluge kleine Katzen kratzen keine Krokodile, sondern kluge kleine Katzen kratzen kahle Kinnbacken.

Literal Translation: Clever little cats don’t scratch crocodiles, but clever little cats scratch bare chins.

Difficulty Level: 7

This twister has a lot of k sounds—not to mention kl, kr and kn sounds. If practicing each word sounds like too much trouble, you can try saying Kluge kleine Katzen kratzen keine Krokodile out loud first, then sondern kluge kleine Katzen kratzen kahle Kinnbacken .

19. Auf dem rasenden Rasen robben rasende Robben.

Literal Translation: On the racing lawn, racing seals crawl.

Difficulty Level: 7

Like tongue twister #17, this involves a lot of r and ra sounds, though it’s a bit more manageable. (And hey, it involves bouncing seals, so no complaints from me!)

20. Der Cottbuser Postkutscher putzt den Cottbuser Postkutschkasten.

Literal Translation: The Cottbus post coachman cleans the Cottbus mail coach box.

Difficulty Level: 7

This twister has a ton of consonant combos like tsch, ck, k and sch. You can focus on  Postkutscher (coachman) and  Postkutschkasten (coach box) during practice before you say this in full.

21. Fliegenpilze findest du fein, Fräulein, fußfrei fitzelnd frierend.

Literal Translation: Fly agarics, you find them fine, Miss, footloose, fiddling, freezing.

Difficulty Level: 7

Just looking at all those f, fl, fi, fr and fu sounds can be nerve-wracking! Like with some of the previous entries, it would be a good idea to either practice each word individually (if you have time) or break it down into parts that feel comfortable for you.

22. Braut Boris brät Bärenbratwürste, brät Boris Bärenbratwürste?

Literal Translation: Groom Boris fries bear bratwurst, does Boris fry bear bratwurst?

Difficulty Level: 7

This twister involves several br, b and w sounds, along with the challenging tsch sound. There are also several word pairs in quick succession that make it easy for your tongue to stumble over them!

You can practice each pair first before combining them together (e.g., do  Braut Boris before brät Bären ).

23. In Hagen, hinter Hagen, jagen hagere Jäger hehre Hasen.

Literal Translation: In Hagen, behind Hagen, lean hunters chase noble hares.

Difficulty Level: 7

This twister contains plenty of and j sounds, particularly in the last half. I would divvy it up into manageable parts (e.g.,  In Hagen, hinter Hagen then jagen hagere Jäger hehre Hasen ).

24. Hottentottenpotentatentantenattentat

Literal Translation: Assassination of a Hottentot potentate’s aunt.

Difficulty Level: 8

Who thought just one word would count as a tongue twister? Welcome to the world of German compound words! Germans love joining their words together which results in some ridiculously long trains of letters just like the one above.

To have this word effortlessly trip off your tongue, you need to attack it as if it was a bunch of smaller words. Take each of its component parts on their own: Hottentotten , (Hottentot) Potentaten (potentate), Tanten (aunt) and Attentat (assassination). As previously mentioned, say these very slowly until you know the pronunciation inside out. Then join them up into the one long word.

25. Schnecken erschrecken, wenn Schnecken an Schnecken schlecken, weil zum Schrecken vieler Schnecken Schnecken nicht schmecken.

Literal Translation: Snails get scared when snails lick snails because to the horror of many snails, snails don’t taste good.

Difficulty Level: 8

The almost-cannibalism aside, this tongue twister is high up on this list in terms of difficulty due to the length and repeated sch, s and schm sounds. I would try to remember that  schnecken means “snail,”  schlecken means “lick” and  schrecken means “scare.”

26. Zwischen zwei Zwetschgenzweigen sitzen zwei zechenschwarze tschechisch zwitschernde Zwergschwalben.

Literal Translation: Between two plum tree branches, two dark Czech Twittering Dwarf Swallows sit.

Difficulty Level: 8

Oof, there’s all the z, not to mention tsch, sch and zw sounds. This is another tongue twister that would benefit from being broken down into manageable bits before being said out loud altogether.

27. Ein chinesisches Schüsselschiff mit chinesischem Schüsselgeschirr schippert geschwind durch die schimmernde Schilfsee.

Literal Translation: A Chinese bowl ship with Chinese bowl dishes swiftly sails through the shimmering reed sea.

Difficulty Level: 8

Now this one is a beast! You’ll need to get all those sch, ch and s sounds down pat. If you dare to take on this one, I suggest taking as much time as you can with it.

How to Master Tongue Twisters

Being able to ace a German tongue twister may seem like an impossible task, but if you take things slowly, you’ll soon realize just how easy they are to pick up.

If you’re lucky enough to know a native German speaker personally, ask them to slowly read out a couple of tongue twisters. This way you’ll hear how they’re meant to sound. Don’t have one of those? You can always look online for videos—YouTube has plenty of videos of German tongue twisters.

While YouTube is an absolute gold mine of informative videos, you might find it easier to learn tongue twisters if you can read the captions while native speakers say them. For example, you can use the language learning program FluentU

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

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FluentU uses interactive captions on all of its authentic German videos to make it easier to keep up with the native speakers while you watch.

There are also podcasts available with German teachers explaining exactly how to say tongue twisters, like this one from Ask Angelika.

First things first, though: you need to start off small. Break the tongue twister down into manageable parts and work on these. Once you can say each part of the tongue twister clearly, start building it up and attempt the whole tongue twister. You can begin to speed things up once you’ve cracked it in its entirety.

Why Tongue Twisters Will Help Your German

The key to tongue twisters is the repetition in their sounds. This is the whole point of them: they repeat a bunch of really difficult sounds over and over, forcing your tongue to get to grips with them. After stumbling over the difficult phrases a few times, your tongue will eventually become used to the sounds. Once you can fluently say a tongue twister, you’ll be able to copy the sounds in your everyday spoken German.

Tongue twisters will also improve your memory and focus. The repetition will help to focus your brain on a single task. While this is good in your native language, it’s much more of a benefit in a foreign tongue. After a few tongue twisters, your brain will be in the German zone and tuned in for language practice.

 

Is your tongue tired yet?

Keep persevering with these tongue twisters. You’ll be amazed how effective they are for your speaking skills. With plenty of practice, you might even have a chance at beating a native speaker in a tongue twister competition.

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