10 German tongue twisters (deutsche Zungenbrecher) to get your mouth around
Fancy showing off your German language skills to friends and family? A tongue twister is a (usually nonsense) sentence that groups together similar-sounding words to challenge your pronunciation - which makes practising German tongue twisters (deutsche Zungenbrecher) a great way of getting your pronunciation on point for that German course.
Easy tongue twisters in German
Let’s warm up with a few easy tongue twisters in German to get your mouth going.
Lang schwang der Klang am Hang entlang
This one’s got a nice rhythm to it that helps with the pronunciation. It means: The sound vibrates slowly along the slope - which demonstrates that tongue twisters don’t always translate between languages very well!
Blaukraut bleibt Blaukraut und Brautkleid bleibt Brautkleid
We told you all tongue twisters are usually nonsense: this one combines food and weddings to make a tricky sentence that makes absolutely no sense. Red cabbage is red cabbage and a wedding dress is a wedding dress.
Wenn Fliegen hinter Fliegen fliegen, fliegen Fliegen hinter Fliegen her
This German tongue twister works in English too! When flies fly after flies, flies fly after flies. Now say it 10 times at speed.
Die Katzen kratzen im Katzenkasten, im Katzenkasten kratzen Katzen
Croon this one to your pet: the cats scratch in the cat box, in the cat box the cats scratch.
Wenn du Wachsmasken magst, Max macht Wachsmasken aus Wachsmaskenwachs
Now things are getting a little trickier. This one also kind of works in English: If you like wax masks, Max makes wax masks out of wax mask wax. In German, it’s a good way to practise both the hard and the soft “ch” sounds.
Hard tongue twisters
Famously, the German language is full of long words packed with consonants, making these tongue twisters even more of a challenge for non-native speakers! No wonder a tongue twister is known as a Zungenbrecher in German - literally, a tongue breaker!
If you’re up for a challenge, here are some hard tongue twisters in German. Try repeating these five or 10 times over.
Fischers Fritz fischt frische Fische, frische Fische fischt Fischers Fritz
Time for a classic German tongue twister: Fisherman’s Fritz fishes for fresh fish, fresh fish is what the fisherman’s Fritz fishes. Even native speakers struggle with this one.
There are so many Ts we’re having trouble seeing the wood for the trees! This one-word tongue twister translates to: “An attack on the aunt of a Hottentot potentate.” The trick is to break it down into more manageable sections.
Am zehnten zehnten um zehn Uhr zehn zogen zehn zahme Ziegen zehn Zentner Zucker zum Zoo
Get practising that hard Z sound with this tricky tongue twister! It means: on October 10, at 10.10am, 10 game goats pulled 10 centners of sugar to the zoo.
Schnecken erschrecken, wenn sie an Schnecken schlecken, weil zum Schrecken vieler Schnecken Schnecken nicht schmecken
Snails are startled when they lick snails because, to the dismay of many snails, snails don’t taste good. All we can say is: Amen.
Der dicke Dachdecker deckt Dir dein Dach, drum dank dem dicken Dachdecker, dass der dicke Dachdecker Dir Dein Dach deckte
A little bit of sound logic in this one: The fat roofer tiles your roof, so thank the fat roofer, that the fat roofer tiled your roof.
Wir Wiener Waschweiber würden weiße Wäsche waschen, wenn wir wüssten, wo weiches, warmes Wasser wäre
And this one gets your conditional tense muscles working as well! We Viennese washerwomen would wash white laundry if we knew where soft, warm water was.
Hardest tongue twister
Ready for a doozy? In our humble opinion, this has to be the hardest tongue twister out there, anywhere.
Sie stellte das Tschechische Streichholzschächtelchen auf den Tisch, auf den Tisch stellte sie das Tschechische Streichholzschächtelchen
Don’t be fooled! It might not look long, but Streichholzschächtelchen is famously one of the hardest words to say in the German language - just search it on YouTube and you’ll see even German people struggling! It also happens to be one of the longest German words, so this one is a double whammy of difficulty.
It means: She puts the small Czech matchbox on the table, on the table she puts the small Czech matchbox. If you can do it without struggling, we bow down to you!
Practise your German pronunciation with these Zungenbrecher
Is your tongue in knots yet? If so, try them all again! It won’t be long until you’re nailing those hard consonants and glottal stops. Keep going until your tongue breaks!