Tongue Twisters

What is a Tongue Twister? How are they used?

Tongue twisters are sentences containing alliteration. Alliteration refers to the same phonetic sound repeated at the beginning of each word, for several words. For example, “Sally sang songs on Sundays.” repeats the “s” sound many times. Most tongue twisters use rhyme and alliteration. Rhyme is an important aspect of tongue twisters because it makes them easier to remember. Tongue twisters have also been used in scientific research as part of the effort to prove reading silently still requires speech articulation as if the words were being read aloud.

Tongue Twisters are hard to say because the repetition of the same phonetic sound creates issues with pronunciation and clarity of words. Native English speakers find great fun in learning tongue twisters because many people turn them into games to see how many people can say them three times, fast.

Tongue twisters are a great way to introduce the concept of alliteration and help those trying to learn English better understand the language. Practicing tongue twisters allows people who are learning English to strengthen their speech skills. The faster a person can say the tongue twister without slipping up, the stronger their language skills become.

What Makes Tongue Twisters Difficult to Say

Tongue twisters use a variety of techniques to make them difficult to say, in addition to alliteration.

  • Shifting from single sounds to double sounds, such as a shift from “s” to “sh.”
  • Changing the order of the sounds, because our muscle memory wants to return to the first way the words are said.
  • Similar yet different sounds, such as a rhyme where only the first sound changes.
  • Homophones, or the use of words that sound the same and are spelled differently, such as “would” and “wood.”

There are many different tongue twisters in the English language. Some of the most popular are:

  • “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”
  • “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. Did Peter Piper pick a peck of pickled peppers?
    If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?”
  • “She sells sea shells down by the sea shore.”
  • “A big black bug bit a big black bear, made the big black bear bleed blood. “
  • If two witches were watching two watches, which witch would watch which watch?”

Other tongue twisters, known as Spoonerisms in the English language, are specifically created to cause an accidental curse word to be uttered if the person reciting the rhyme slips up.

Tongue twisters are present in every language, used for fun and learning.

Sites for Tongue Twisters

This site was originally owned and written by Karin M. Cintron.
Here is the archive of the original Karin M. Cintron biography page.
This site is now edited by another Karin, Karin Martinez.
You can email the new Karin at
You can also find the Karin's ESL Partyland on Facebook and Twitter.

Related Articles