The Tricky Art of English Tongue Twisters: Why They Are More Than Just a Fun Game

Elly Kimreviewed byIryna Andrus / more about Editorial Process10 min
Created: Apr 20, 2023Last updated: Jan 24, 2024
Game

English tongue twisters are a fun and challenging way to practice pronunciation and master your fluency in the language. Yet, some of them can be pretty challenging, even for native speakers! Today’s article will show you the most famous tongue twisters and hard-to-pronounce expressions. Also, we will find out if pronunciation is the only skill we can nail by practicing tongue twisters.

English Tongue Twisters: In a Nutshell

Of course, we can’t start with anything else but a short definition. What exactly are those tongue twisters? Luckily, their meaning is not complicated – they are precisely what you think they are. The Cambridge Dictionary defines a tongue twister as a phrase or expression created to be difficult to pronounce, especially when you repeat it quickly or often. Tongue twisters in English can be divided into several categories, depending on different factors. Here are the three main ones:

  • By length. As you can guess from the name, these tongue twisters can have different sizes – short, medium, or long. 
  • By difficulty level. Some challenging-to-pronounce expressions were explicitly created for kids, while others will be tricky even for adults. In this category, they can be easy or hard. 
  • By the sounds. Most tongue twisters are made for mastering a particular sound. Therefore, they can be divided according to their primary sound practice goal. 

People have been using good tongue twisters for hundreds of years. Today, they are still widely popular. Now you know some general information about such expressions. And it means it is time to get acquainted with the best examples of difficult sayings in English. 

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20 Funny Tongue Twisters

One of our main rules at Promova is that learning English must be as fun and exciting as possible. We don’t want you to get bored and tedious during your studying process. That is why we’ve decided to start your acquaintance with good tongue twisters with the funniest ones. Here is the list of hilarious expressions that will totally make you giggle!

  • Eleven benevolent elephants, bouncing blindly. 
  • Can you can a can as a scanner can can a can?
  • How can a clam cram in a clean cream can?
  • If two witches watched watches, then which witch would watch which watch? 
  • Birdie birdie in the sky laid a turdie in my eye. 
  • I slit the sheet, the sheet I slit, and on the slitted sheet, I sit. 
  • If you must cross a course cross cow across a crowded cow crossing, cross the cross coarse cow across the crowded cow crossing carefully.
  • Zebras zig and zebras zag. 
  • An ape hates grape cakes. 
  • Six slimy snails sailed silently. 
  • The great Greek grape growers grow great Greek grapes.
  • Rhys watched Ross switch his Irish wristwatch for a Swiss wristwatch. 
  • How many yaks could a yak pack, pack if a yak pack could pack yaks?
  • A happy hippo hopped and hiccuped.
  • Brisk brave brigadiers brandished broad bright blades, blunderbusses, and bludgeons – balancing them badly.
  • Biting babies ride battle toys while bumbling boys brave bald biting babies.
  • As one black bug bled blue, black blood. The other black bug bled blue.
  • If you notice this notice, you will notice that this notice is not worth noticing.
  • I thought a thought. But the thought I thought wasn’t the thought I thought I thought. If the thought I thought I thought had been the thought I thought, I wouldn’t have thought I thought.
  • Rory the warrior and Roger the worrier were reared wrongly in a rural brewery.

Phew! Even writing them down was a bit of a task. We’ve felt like Eminem during that famous Rap God chorus. And these are not even the hardest ones! Yet, you can see that they are pretty amusing – it is an excellent way to have fun with your friends or family. And now, it is time for the next challenge!

10 Long Tongue Twisters

The examples of complex sentences above are short – most are no longer than a single sentence. But you don’t think our tongue twister list is over, right? There are many more examples! Some of them are so long that they sound like actual poems. And we are thrilled to show them to you. 

  • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers; 
    A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked; 
    If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, 
    Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
  • How much dew does a dewdrop drop 
    If dewdrops do drop dew? 
    They do drop, they do 
    As do dewdrops drop 
    If dewdrops do drop dew.
  • Bobby Bippy bought a bat. 
    Bobby Bippy bought a ball. 
    With his bat, Bob banged the ball 
    banged it bump against the wall.
  • 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.
  • Yellow butter, purple jelly, red jam, black bread. 
    Spread it thick, say it quick! 
    Yellow butter, purple jelly, red jam, black bread. 
    Spread it thicker, say it quicker! 
    Yellow butter, purple jelly, red jam, black bread. 
    Don’t eat with your mouth full!
  • To begin to toboggan, first, buy a toboggan, but don’t buy too big a toboggan. Too big a toboggan is too big a toboggan to buy to begin to toboggan.
  • Through three cheese trees, three free fleas flew. 
    While these fleas flew, a freezy breeze blew. 
    The Freezy breeze made these three trees freeze. 
    Freezy trees made these trees’ cheese freeze. 
    That’s what made these three free fleas sneeze.
  • How much ground would a groundhog hog if a groundhog could hog ground? A groundhog would hog all the ground he could hog if a groundhog could hog ground.
  • How many cans can a cannibal nibble 
    if a cannibal can nibble cans? 
    As many cans as a cannibal can nibble 
    if a cannibal can nibble cans.
  • She sells seashells on the seashore. 
    The shells she sells are seashells, I’m sure. 
    And if she sells seashells on the seashore, 
    Then I’m sure she sells seashore shells.

We believe that these are the best tongue twisters in English. And obviously, the hardest ones! If you think they are not as tricky as we say, just try to say them aloud. You will be surprised by the result. 

20 Short and Simple Tongue Twisters

And finally, it is time to relax a little. You and your tongue are probably already tired of those difficult (and sometimes nonsensical) expressions. That is why we’ve provided you with some short, simple, and understandable tongue twisters. You can find the most straightforward tongue twister example list below.

  • Sheena leads, Sheila needs.
  • Selfish shellfish. (Repeat many times)
  • Pad kid poured curd-pulled cod.
  • The big bug bit the little beetle.
  • Tom threw Tim three thumbtacks.
  • Give Papa a cup of proper coffee in a copper coffee cup.
  • Linda-Lou Lambert loves lemon lollipop lip gloss.
  • Specific Pacific. (Repeat many times)
  • Toy boat. Toy boat. Toy boat. (Repeat many times)
  • Fred fed Ted bread, and Ted fed Fred bread.
  • We surely shall see the sun shine soon.
  • The crow flew over the river with a lump of raw liver.
  • Send toast to ten tense stout saints ’ten tall tents. 
  • One-one was a racehorse. Two-two was one too. One-one won one race. Two-two won one too. 
  • Betty’s big bunny bobbled by the blueberry bush.
  • Thirty-three thousand feathers on a thrushes throat.
  • If a dog chews shoes, whose shoes does he choose?
  • Top chopstick shops stock top chopsticks.
  • Pirates Private Property. (Repeat many times)
  • A synonym for cinnamon is a cinnamon synonym.

So, what are the best tongue twisters in English? With these examples, you already know the answer. They are pretty hard to memorize and pronounce. But don’t worry! Below, you will find valuable tips and tricks to help you nail even the most complex expressions. 

Tips for Mastering English Tongue Twisters

We always say that practice makes perfect. Therefore, the best way to learn to pronounce complex phrases is to repeat them as often as possible. But it is not the only advice we can give you. Here is a list of valuable tips to help you learn and pronounce both challenging and fun tongue twisters.

  1. Begin by saying the tongue twister slowly and clearly. Pay attention to how each sound feels in your mouth.
  2. Break the tongue twister into smaller parts and practice each piece separately. Once you are comfortable with each part, put them all together.
  3. Focus on saying the sentence accurately rather than trying to say it quickly.
  4. Write the expression down, or use pictures to help you remember it. Visual aids can help you associate sounds with words and images.
  5. Find a professional teacher who will help you pronounce difficult sounds.
  6. Record yourself saying the tongue twister and listen back to it. This will help you identify areas where you need to improve.

And one last tip for you. Remember that tongue twisters are meant to be entertaining. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t get it right the first time. Just relax, and you will see the results much faster. You can also use these expressions to challenge your friends – it is a great way to practice and have fun at the same time.

The Main Benefits of Learning English Tongue Twisters

Now that you know almost a hundred new tongue twisters, you probably wonder why exactly we told you about them. Well, as you may notice, our blog is all about English. And we do our best to provide our readers with the most beneficial topics for their learning. Tongue twisters also have many advantages. Here are only a few of them:

  1. By practicing tongue twisters, you can improve your fluency and ability to speak English smoothly and confidently.
  2. Tongue twisters require precise coordination between the lips, tongue, and other speech organs. Mastering them can help you develop greater control over your speech.
  3. Hard-to-pronounce expressions can be challenging to say correctly, but they can give you a sense of accomplishment and build confidence when speaking English.
  4. Listening to others saying tongue twisters can help you strengthen your listening skills and comprehension of spoken English.
  5. Reciting the best tongue twisters requires memorization, which can help improve your memory and cognitive abilities.

Can you believe it? Those funny (even gibberish sometimes) sentences and word jokes can have such a significant impact on your English level. Today, you’ve taken one step closer to achieving fluency. And we believe that after learning only a few tongue twisters listed above, you will be pleasantly surprised with your pronunciation.

Promova Knows What a Tongue Twister Is and How to Deal With It

Practicing tongue twisters alone can be even more challenging for unprepared students. Therefore, they need some help from professionals. And Promova is the best platform to find one in a matter of minutes. This international language-learning multitool has been here for a while, and they know exactly what you might need. 

You can choose from many options based on your studying motivations. For example, if you want to work with a professional teacher, you can join personal or group lessons. All you have to do is pass a quick proficiency test and start learning immediately. And if you are still hesitating, Promova offers students a free trial lesson – with its help, you can find out all the details before making your final decision. 

But that's not all! There are many features available for those who are not interested in lessons. For example, you can install the Promova app and access tons of unique content and materials to practice on the go. And a free Conversation club is a great option for those who want to strengthen their speaking skills and discuss fascinating topics simultaneously. As you can see, many exciting things are available – so go and find the perfect one for you.

Conclusion

To sum up, we can say that tongue twisters are a perfect option for English learners. They are not only fun and tricky; they can also benefit your studying process. We hope this article was helpful. And as always, we will ask you to share something in the comments. Today, tell us about the most challenging tongue twister for yourself!

FAQ

Is there any science behind why tongue twisters are so difficult to say?

Yes, there is a scientific explanation for why tongue twisters are challenging to say. They usually contain a sequence of sounds or words that require complex movements of the tongue, lips, and other speech organs. These movements involve several muscles’ coordination, making it difficult for the brain to execute them smoothly and quickly. Additionally, the sounds and words in tongue twisters often share similar or overlapping articulatory features, such as consonants or vowels, which further adds to the difficulty.

Can tongue twisters help with other language skills besides pronunciation?

Of course, they can! For example, they can improve fluency, rhythm, and intonation,  essential to speaking a language naturally and confidently. They can also enhance listening comprehension, as learners must listen carefully to distinguish between similar-sounding words and sounds.

Are there any professional contexts where practicing tongue twisters can be especially useful?

There are numerous professional contexts where practicing tongue twisters can be not just helpful but even necessary. For example, actors, public speakers, and broadcasters may use twisters as warm-up exercises to prepare their speech organs and improve their diction. Language teachers may also use such expressions as a fun and engaging way to help their students practice pronunciation and other language skills.

What is the origin of the term “tongue twisters,” and how long have they been used in language learning?

The origin of this term is unclear, but it likely dates back to at least the 18th century. Tongue twisters have been used in language learning for hundreds of years. Some of the earliest known examples come from medieval Europe, where they were often used as mnemonic devices to remember lists of names or numbers.

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