Practice Your German With These 20 Tongue Twisters (Zungenbrecher)

Don't break your tongue!

Tongue Tied up
Try these Zungenbrecher (tongue twisters). FAITHography-Moment Open@gettyimages

German tongue twisters are known as "tongue breakers" in German, or Zungenbrecher. Many of the classic German tongue twisters easily fit that unique description, and they can also be an amusing and entertaining way to practice your German pronunciation. 

German Tongue Twisters

Here is a collection of German tongue twisters — with an English translation of each one. See how fast you can say them (or if you can say them at all!).

1.  Acht alte Ameisen assen am Abend Ananas.

Eight old ants ate pineapple in the evening.

2.  Allergischer Algerier, algerischer Allergiker.

Allergic Algerian, Algerian allergic

3.  Esel essen Nesseln nicht, Nesseln essen Esel nicht.

Donkeys don't eat nettles, nettles don't eat donkeys.

4.  Es klapperten die Klapperschlangen bis ihre Klappern schlapper klangen.

The rattlesnakes rattled until their rattles sounded run-down. (This is a Schüttelreim, or "goat rhyme," as is the the next one.)

5.  Es sprach der Herr von Rubenstein, mein Hund der ist nicht stubenrein.

So spoke Mr. von Rubenstein, my dog, he's not house-trained.

6.  Es grünt so grün, wenn Spaniens Blüten blühen.

It turns so green when the flowers in Spain flower. (This is the German version of "The rain in Spain falls mainly in the plain" from "My Fair Lady.")

7.  Fischers Fritz ißt frische Fische, frische Fische ißt Fischers Fritz. 

Fischer's Fritz eats fresh fish; fresh fish eats Fischer's Fritz.

(This can be compared to the English "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.") 

8.  Hottentottenpotentatentantenattentat

Hottentot potentate's aunt assassination. (Note: This long, humorous German word uses only seven letters of the alphabet. The correct term for "Hottentot" is actually "Khoi-Khoi," a now virtually extinct African tribe in what is now Namibia, formerly German South-West Africa.)

9.  Im dichten Fichtendickicht sind dicke Fichten wichtig.

In the thick spruce thicket thick spruces are important.

10.  In Ulm, um Ulm, um Ulm herum.

In Ulm, around Ulm, all around Ulm.

11.  Die Katzen kratzen im Katzenkasten, im Katzenkasten kratzen Katzen.

The cats scratch in the cat box, in the cat box scratch the cats.

12.  Die krumme Katze tritt die krumme Treppe krumm.

The crooked (hunched) cat goes down the crooked stairs crookedly.

13.  Der Cottbuser Postkutscher putzt den Cottbuser Postkutschkasten.

The Cottbus postal coach driver cleans the Cottbus postal coach chest.

14.  Ob er über Oberammergau, oder aber über Unterammergau, oder ob er überhaupt noch kommt, ist ungewiß!

Whether he's coming via Oberammergau, or perhaps via Unterammergau, or not at all, is uncertain.

15.  Der Pfostenputzer putzt den Pfosten, den Pfosten putzt der Pfostenputzer.

The post-cleaner cleans the post, the post is being cleaned by the post-cleaner.

16.  Wenn Fliegen hinter Fliegen fliegen, dann fliegen Fliegen Fliegen nach.

When flies fly behind flies, then flies fly after flies.

17.  Wenn hinter Griechen Griechen kriechen, kriechen Griechen Griechen nach.

When Greeks creep behind Greeks, Greeks creep after Greeks.

18.  Wenn meine Braut Blaukraut klaut, dann ist sie eine Blaukrautklaubraut.

If my bride steals red cabbage, then she's a red cabbage-stealing bride.

19.  Zehn Ziegen zogen zehn Zentner Zucker zum Zoo, zum Zoo zogen zehn Ziegen zehn Zentner Zucker.

Ten goats pulled ten centners of sugar to the zoo, to the zoo pulled ten goats ten centners of sugar.
(A "hundredweight," der Zentner, equals 50 kilograms, 100 Pfund or 110 U.S. pounds.)

20.  Zwischen zwei Zwetschgenbäumen zwitschern zwei Schwalben.

Between two plum trees twitter two swallows.

Need Help?

If you're struggling with the tongue-twister, ask a German native to say it for you look online to hear the pronunciation. It can help to hear it, not just read it. 

Start slowly; practice just small chunks of a tongue twister first. 

More German Tongue Twisters on the Web

Want more tongue breaking?

Here is a collection of more tongue-twisters.