16 Spanish Tongue Twisters for Fun Pronunciation Practice
Tongue twisters, or trabalenguas, are an excellent tool to improve your Spanish pronunciation.
Repeating tongue twisters can also help speed up your speech and improve overall fluency.
Let’s get started on twisting your tongue around some trabalenguas.
- 1. Tres tristes tigres
- 2. Pablito clavó un clavito
- 3. El vino vino
- 4. Rápido corren los carros
- 5. Compadre, cómprame un coco
- 6. De generación en generación
- 7. Ñoño Yáñez come ñame
- 8. Papá pon pan para Pepín
- 9. Si don Curro ahorra ahora
- 10. Si la sierva que te sirve
- 11. Yo vi en un huerto un cuervo cruento
- 12. Chiquito chanchito cochinito
- 13. La sucesión sucesiva de sucesos
- 14. Qué triste estás, Tristán
- 15. El volcán de Parangaricutirimícuaro
- 16. Tras el triple trapecio de Trípoli
- Why Learn Spanish Tongue Twisters?
- How to Practice Pronunciation with Spanish Tongue Twisters
1. Tres tristes tigres
English: Three sad tigers
Sound easy? Try repeating it over and over again.
If you’re having trouble, spend some time practicing the “tre,” “tri” and “re” sounds on their own.
Once you can say “tres tristes tigres,” you can move on to the rest of the tongue twister.
Tres tristes tigres tragan trigo en un trigal.
(Three sad tigers swallow wheat in a wheat field.)
Tres tristes tigres tragaban trigo en un trigal.
(Three sad tigers swallowed wheat in a wheat field.)
Un tigre, dos tigres, tres tigres
(One tiger, two tiger, three tigers)
Tragaban en un trigal.
(swallowed in a wheat field.)
¿Cuál tigre tragaba más?
(Which tiger swallowed more?)
Todos tragaban igual.
(They all swallowed the same.)
Again, it helps to practice the sounds on their own before saying the whole thing.
For the second version, you can practice “tre, tri, re, tra, tri, tri” until you can say the sounds quickly, and then try the whole sentence again.
Once you’ve got it, try seeing how quickly you can say it without tripping over the words.
2. Pablito clavó un clavito
English: Little Pablo hit a little nail
This one helps practice the diminutive sound “ito” and is a nice little story, though it’s best not to dwell on why Pablito is allowed near a hammer.
Pablito clavó un clavito
(Little Pablo hit a little nail,)
¿qué clavito clavó Pablito?
(Which little nail did little Pablo hit?)
Like “tres tristes tigres,” there are several variations on this tongue twister. One even adds a bald man into the mix. Yes, you read that correctly.
Pablito clavó un clavito en la cabeza de un calvito.
(Little Pablo hit a little nail on the head of a little bald man.)
En la cabeza de un calvito un clavo clavó Pablito.
(On the head of the little bald man, little Pablo hit a nail.)
We never find out what happened to the bald man, or Pablito, so there’s no guarantee that no one was harmed in the making of this tongue twister.
3. El vino vino
English: The wine came
This tongue twister plays on the fact that “vino” (wine) can also be understood as the past tense of “venir” (to come). They’re pronounced the same, so this can be a tricky one to remember, even if it looks simple.
El vino vino, pero el vino no vino vino.
(The wine came, but the wine wasn’t wine.)
El vino vino vinagre.
(The wine came vinegary.)
This practices the “v” sound, which is the same as the “b” sound in Spanish. So, this tongue twister allows you to practice two sounds in one without any extra effort.
4. Rápido corren los carros
English: The cars go quickly
This is designed to practice the “rr” sound, which is written here as “erre.” Make sure you’re really pronouncing the “rr” and not just the “r” sound.
Erre con erre cigarro, erre con erre barril.
(R with r cigarette, r with r barrel.)
Rápido corren los carros, cargados de azúcar del ferrocarril.
(The carts go quickly, laden with sugar from the train.)
If you’re struggling, try saying a word with “r” and a word with “rr,” one after the other.
For example, you could switch between “coro” (choir) and “corro” (I run). Record yourself saying the words and play it back to see if you can tell the difference.
5. Compadre, cómprame un coco
English: Buddy, buy me a coconut
This fun rhyme practices the “co” sound in various forms, often adding the “m” to make “com,” which is pronounced exactly as it looks—with a long “o” sound.
Compadre, cómprame un coco.
(Buddy, buy me a coconut.)
Compadre, coco no compro, porque el que poco coco come, poco coco compra
(Buddy, I don’t buy coconut, because those who eat little coconut, buy little coconut.)
Yo como poco coco como poco coco compro.
(As I eat little coconut, I buy little coconut.)
6. De generación en generación
English: From generation to generation
Though it’s a bleak take on society, this tongue twister is still good for your Spanish. Here you’ll practice the soft “g” sound.
De generación en generación las generaciones se degeneran con mayor degeneración.
(From generation to generation the generations degenerate with more degeneracy.)
Since we don’t pronounce the letter “g” like this in English, it might take some extra work to get this one down.
7. Ñoño Yáñez come ñame
English: Dimwit Yáñez eats yam
This fun tongue twister will help you with a letter English doesn’t have at all: the “ñ.”
Ñoño Yáñez come ñame en las mañanas con el niño.
(Dimwit Yáñez eats yam in the mornings with the boy.)
Remember that “ñ” should sound like the “ny” in “canyon.”
Try getting the hang of Ñoño, Yáñez, ñame, mañanas and niño individually before you string the whole thing together.
8. Papá pon pan para Pepín
English: Dad, serve bread for Pepin
Why is Pepin only getting bread? Hard to say.
Papá pon pan para Pepín, para Pepín pon pan papá.
(Dad serves bread for Pepin, for Pepin Dad serves bread.)
While the “p” sound isn’t necessarily difficult, putting a bunch in a row like this certainly makes for a tricky tongue twister! Practice it slowly before you start picking up speed.
9. Si don Curro ahorra ahora
English: If Mr. Curro saves now
If you want some extra help with tongue twister #4, start here instead.
In this one, you should be able to clearly hear the difference between the “rr” and “r” sounds with “ahorra” and “ahora.”
Si don Curro ahorra ahora, ahora ahorra don Curro.
(If Mr. Curro saves now, now saves Mr. Curro.)
For similar practice, try saying “pero” (but) and “perro” (dog) back to back in the same way.
10. Si la sierva que te sirve
English: If the servant that serves you
This tongue twister will help you get the hang of that pesky “s.”
Si la sierva que te sirve,
(If the servant that serves you,)
no te sirve como sierva,
(serves you not as a servant,)
de qué sirve que te sirvas de una sierva que no sirve.
(of what use is the service of a servant that doesn’t serve.)
Definitely focus on getting this one slowly, line by line, at first. Note that “sirve” is used differently throughout this tongue twister.
11. Yo vi en un huerto un cuervo cruento
English: I saw, in a vegetable patch, a blood-covered crow
This one paints a very distinct (and somewhat disturbing) image.
Yo vi en un huerto un cuervo cruento comerse el cuero del cuerpo del puerco muerto.
(I saw, in a vegetable patch, a blood-covered crow eating the hide of the body of the dead swine.)
Yuck… Memorable though!
Most importantly, you’re practicing the Spanish “ue” sound. Try them individually first: huerto, cuervo, cruento and so on.
12. Chiquito chanchito cochinito
English: Tiny dirty little piggy
Here’s another trabalenguas with the diminutive “ito” sound, paired with “ch” Latin American slang words.
This one uses includes two ways to say “pig” in Spanish (chancho, conchino), but there are actually three other ways (cerdo, marrano, puerco), all of which can also mean “dirty” or “untidy” in English!
Chiquito chanchito cochinito, echado en la charca está,
(Tiny dirty little piggy is lying at the pond.)
¡ah! qué chiquito chanchito cochinito que cochinito está.
(Ah! What a tiny, dirty little piggy, who is a little dirty.)
13. La sucesión sucesiva de sucesos
English: The successive series of events
This tongue twister will help you with both the “s” and “th” sounds.
You should be aiming for a similar pronunciation to Sicilia (Sicily), as pronounced in Castilian Spanish.
La sucesión sucesiva de sucesos sucede sucesivamente con la sucesión del tiempo.
(The successive series of events follows successively with the succession of time.)
Again, try the words on their own first. It may help to start with a smaller one first (“sucede,” for example) and work up to the longer ones (like “sucesivamente“).
14. Qué triste estás, Tristán
English: How sad you are, Tristán
The reason for Tristán’s unhappy mood isn’t that much clearer once you know the whole tongue twister.
¡Qué triste estás, Tristán, tras tan tétrica trama teatral!
(How sad you are, Tristán, after such a gloomy theatrical plot!)
Regardless, this one will get you practicing the “t” sound. If you’re having difficulties, try repeating the tactic from #1 by getting the hang of the initial sounds first.
15. El volcán de Parangaricutirimícuaro
English: The Parangaricutirimícuaro volcano
Don’t understand? Don’t worry, neither does anyone else.
This one’s pure nonsense, though it’s allegedly derived from the name of Mexico’s Paricutín volcano and that of a neighboring town, San Juan Parangaricutiro.
El volcán de Parangaricutirimícuaro se quiere desparangaricutirimicuarizar;
(The Parangaricutirimícuaro volcano wants to de-parangaricutirimicuarize itself;)
el que lo desparangaricutirimicuarice, buen desparangaricutirimicuarizador será.
(the one who de-parangaricutirimicuarizes it will be a good de-parangaricutirimicuarizer.)
To attempt to produce this trabalenguas, break it down and practice the parts of the words on their own before joining them together.
Start by repeating:
Then practice the different endings:
16. Tras el triple trapecio de Trípoli
English: Through the triple trapezium of Tripoli
You probably won’t be able to make heads or tails of the Spanish or English versions of this one.
Tras el triple trapecio de Trípoli
(Through the triple trapezium of Tripoli,)
trepaban trigonométricamente tres tristes triunviros trogloditas
(three sad troglodytes triumvirate climbed trigonometrically,)
trastocados y traspuestos por el tremendo tretralcatrapense.
(changed and dazed by the tremendous tretralcatrapense.)
Focus on working out those sounds. As always, it helps to break the tongue twister into smaller parts and join them together later.
Perhaps start at the end and practice saying: “tretralcatrapense,” then “tremendo tretralcatrapense.” Slowly add the rest of the words until you’re saying the entire trabalenguas.
Why Learn Spanish Tongue Twisters?
Tongue twisters are often used by speech therapists to help young children produce sounds in Spanish. The most common problem is the “rr” sound, so it makes sense this is a common issue for others learning Spanish as well.
Using tongue twisters to practice will help you teach your mouth to produce sounds it isn’t used to making. Further, tongue twisters can improve memory and focus, as repeating them aids concentration.
Reciting a trabalenguas is also a fun party trick! You’ll impress your Spanish-speaking friends, and probably the English-speaking ones too. Tongue twisters can fill a gap in conversation, provide laughs during a conversation exchange or be passed on to new amigos (friends).
How to Practice Pronunciation with Spanish Tongue Twisters
You can use the tongue twisters on this list as a way to learn how to speak Spanish and sound like a native.
There are hundreds of additional Spanish tongue twisters out there too, some of which you can find at these websites:
The FluentU language learning program also has several videos of trabalenguas, with interactive subtitles that you can read aloud as the clip goes on.
But if these Spanish tongue twisters are still too advanced for you, you can also build up to them by exploring the video library of Spanish media clips that include movie trailers and cartoons, all of which are helpful for listening to native accents and absorbing sounds.
Like the trabalenguas, the videos have interactive captions that pause the video as you hover over or click them, showing you definitions and pronunciation guides as you watch the clip and repeat each sentence.
Additionally, the personalized quizzes on the program include speaking exercises that help you practice your own pronunciation.
There’s no shortage of material available to help you work on your Spanish pronunciation. Soon you’ll be speeding through these tongue twisters with ease.