Hard words in english

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A hugely popular Reddit thread reveals the words non-native (and sometimes even native) English-speakers struggle to say. The thread has had been going on for more than two weeks in which users submitted what they considered the most difficult words to pronounce in the English language. Thousands of people responded and below are their Top 10:

10. Rural

This is especially difficult to pronounce for non-natives, especially Germans, because of the consecutive liquid sounds /l/ and /r/. Some natives too have difficulty pronouncing this word. And it is particularly difficult to say when combined with words containing the same sounds such as “rural jewelry” and “rural jury”. Here is a little gymnastics for your tongue:

I want to be a juror on a rural brewery robbery case

9. Otorhinolaryngologist

This one looks like a beast. It took me some time to pronounce it properly. It’s the word for ear-, nose-, and throat-doctor. And when you know what it means you can break it down and it will be easy to say; “oto-rhino-laryng-ologist” is literally “ear-nose-throat-scientist”.

8. Colonel

Well, it’s words like this that make feel sorry for people trying to learn English. When you know it’s pronounced “kernel”, it becomes easier to pronounce. A Reddit user comments: “We took the French spelling (spelled and pronounced with r) and the Italian pronunciation (also spelled with an l).”

7. Pinguin

This one is tricky even for natives. Most people pronounce it as Pengwen with the stress on the second syllable. Don’t ever feel bad for not pronouncing this word incorrectly. Here’s Benedict Cumberbatch from the BBC with his own personal version of penguin:

6. Sixth

Just imagine the marathon your tongue runs when it wants to pronounce this word. You have to put your tongue up at the roof of your mouth to make the /k/ sound and then back down between your teeth for the /th/. That’s a tongue twister of its own. Here, try this:

The sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick.

5. Isthmus

This word means a piece of land surrounded by water on each side that joins two bigger parts of land. Most people mess up the pronunciation of this word and seem like they have some sort of impediment. There is a very simple trick to pronouncing this word correctly. Keep your tongue behind your teeth and say Is-muss.

4. Anemone

I admit I had to look this one up in the dictionary. Too many /m/ and /n/ sounds for me to handle. So, I am going to avoid this one altogether in the future. To make matters worse, here is a tongue twister:

“In me, many an enemy anemone enema.”

3. Squirrel

You wouldn’t believe this but apparently, this word is so difficult for Germans to say that the English used it as a test for anyone they suspected of being a Nazi spy during WWII.

2. Choir

Hint! This word rhymes with “acquire”. It’s basically the same word but without ‘a’. Where is the /k/ you’d say! Well, I am sorry but this is why English is a silly language.

1. Worcestershire

This is a word Americans will never get right. I,ve heard quite funny pronunciations of this one: Wor-kester-shire. Whats-dis-here. Wooster-shire”. Leicester and Edinburgh fall under the same category.

10 English Words Even Native Speakers Find Difficult to Pronounce

You might think that all native English speakers have no trouble with their pronunciation, but you would be wrong.

You shouldn’t feel guilty about your pronunciation of English words; I know one IELTS examiner who finds it difficult to even say the word ‘pronunciation’!

A hugely popular Reddit thread asked people to list the words they find most difficult to pronounce.

Thousands of people responded and below are their Top 10.

If you want to hear these words pronounced by a native speaker just head over to howjsay.com and type them in.

10- Rural

Germans find this one particularly difficult to pronounce because of the /r/ and /l/ combination and it looks like some English speakers have the same problem.

It is particularly difficult to say when combined with other words containing the same sounds, such as ‘rural jewelry’ or ‘rural jury’.

9-Phenomenon

A phenomenon is something that exists and can be seen, felt, tasted, etc., especially something unusual or interesting.

The sheer numbers of consonants and having /n/ and /m/ sounds one after the other trips people up here.

8- Colonel

A colonel is a high ranking army officer.

It’s words like this that make me feel sorry for anyone trying to learn English. It is not a phonetic language, which means lots of words look completely different to how they sound.

7- Penguin

My personal favourite because I have ‘mispronounced’ this word my whole life as ‘Pengwen’ and I also normally stress the second syllable. Don’t ask me why, we native speakers all have a few words we mess up.

I am in good company though; here’s Benedict Cumberbatch with his own personal version of penguin:

6- Sixth

My Vietnamese students will have some sympathy for people who can’t say this words correctly. Having to put your tongue up at the roof of your mouth to make the /k/ sound and then back down between your teeth for the /th/ ending is a bit of a tongue twister.

Try saying this- The sixth sick sheikh’s sixth sheep’s sick.

5- Isthmus

This is a small piece of land with water on each side that joins two bigger parts of land.

Most people sound like they have a speech impediment when attempting to say this word. The trick is to keep your tongue behind your teeth and say Is-muss.

4- Anemone

I had to look this one up in the dictionary myself. There are a few too many /n/ and /m/ sounds for my liking, so I’m going to avoid this one altogether in the future.

Here is Nemo having the same problems:

3- Squirrel

I’ve had a debate with a few friends over the years about whether this word has one syllable or two. Strictly speaking it has two, but I can never say it that way, and I wouldn’t want to either.

Apparently, this word is so difficult for Germans to say that the English used it as a test for anyone they suspected of being a Nazi spy during WWII.

2- Choir

Another word that proves English really is a silly language.

1- Worcestershire

If you ever want to hear an American mispronounce a word, just ask them to say this.

Leicester and Edinburgh fall under the same category.

400 SharesSixth, successful, and scissors, are just a few examples of the hardest words to pronounce in English.

Learning English as a second language is hard: between confusing verb conjugations and seemingly random grammar rules, even native English speakers get things wrong a lot of the time.

This goes for pronunciation too. The English language has some of the hardest words to pronounce that most non-native and native speakers can agree upon. Let’s look at 12 of the hardest words to pronounce in English. If you can master these, you can master anything.

1. Colonel

Once you know that you pronounce this word, which means “an army officer”, the same way you pronounce “kernel,” it isn’t super difficult.

But if you are new to learning English or you’re not a native English speaker, it’s almost guaranteed that you wouldn’t know how to pronounce it. Even young native English speakers will pronounce this as “Col-oh-nell.”

Thankfully, you probably won’t run across this work very often and once you know how to pronounce it, it won’t give you too much trouble.

2. Rural

Rural seems to give everyone, even native English speakers, trouble. It was even a long-running joke on the TV show 30 Rock: a character stars in a film called “The Rural Juror” that nobody can pronounce. Everyone incorrectly pronounces it as something like, “The Ruhhhrrr Jurrr.”

You actually pronounce it as, “Roor-uhl.”

3. Worcestershire

While Brits might not have as much trouble with this one, most Americans and non-native English speakers agree that Worcestershire is one of the most difficult words to pronounce. It refers both to a town in England as well as a to a delicious sauce people put on meat and beef stew.

People instinctively pronounce it as “Wore-chester-shy-err” or as “Wore-sesst-err-sheer,” both of which are pretty good attempts for those who haven’t seen this word before. It’s easy to get confused with the “cest” in the middle of the word and the unusual pronunciation of the “shire” at the end.

It is actually pronounced “Wooster-sheer.”

4. Mischievous

This is another English word that both native and non-native speakers agree is a doozy. Mischievous means something or someone is a troublemaker or, literally, full of mischief.

Most people incorrectly pronounce this as “Miss-cheev-ee-us.” However, if you think of the word this word comes from (“mischief”) it makes sense that it is actually pronounced “Miss-chiv-us.”

5. Draught

The “au” and the “ght” letter combinations in this word throws a lot of people off. While these letters usually would result in a pronunciation of this word as something like “drot,” that’s actually the wrong pronunciation.

You actually pronounce this word as “draft”. English has a lot of irregularities in spelling and pronunciation, and this word gives you both irregular letter combinations along with a strange pronunciation, which makes it one of the hardest words to pronounce.

6. Anemone

Remember the scene in Finding Nemo when Nemo can’t pronounce the name of his home on the coral reef? This is the word he was trying to say.

The excess amount of vowels and the spelling make it look like it should be pronounced like “bone,” but it’s another difficult word to say that doesn’t really follow normal rules.

Anemone is pronounced “Uh-nem-o-nee,” which isn’t immediately obvious based on the spelling.

7. Quinoa

Quinoa is a type of grain that is super popular among vegans and health nuts nowadays. It also isn’t pronounced as “Key-no-ah,” no matter how much it looks like it should be pronounced that way.

More than half the letters are vowels, and these vowel combinations usually would yield that pronunciation. However, this superfood is said as, “Keen-wah.” It’s rooted from Spanish, which gives it this interesting (and difficult) pronunciation.

8. Scissors

The multiple “s” and “c” combinations in this word make it difficult to wrap your lips around. It’s a pretty common word in the English language and you might learn it early on in your English education.

That doesn’t make the 3 different “s” sounds any easier to pronounce. Once you learn that the initial “sc” doesn’t make a hard “SK” sound, you then have to get used to a singular item ending in an “s” that usually signifies a plural. Good luck getting used to this one!

9. Isthmus

Multiple “s” sounds in one word is usually hard for non-native English speakers to get used to, as we learned with “Scissors.” Isthmus adds another tough letter combination, “th,” directly into the middle of the word. Some languages don’t have this letter combination, which makes learning it in a second language quite difficult.

It gets even more confusing when you learn that the “th” in this word is silent.

In the end, this word sounds like “Is-muss.”

10. Floccinaucinihilipilification

We couldn’t get through this list without throwing in a super long and complex word for you to work out. This is a noun that means something is meaningless or worthless. It happens to be the longest non-technical word in the English language.

It’s a combination of 5 different Latin words, and it can be heard pronounced here. The good news with this word is that it’s rarely used, so you likely won’t have to deal with it.

11. Sixth

We have another word dealing with tricky “s” sounds along with the strange letter combination of “xth.” The mash-up of an “s” sound with the “xth” sound makes this one of the top words that are hard to say for both native and non-native speakers.

12. Successful

We will round out this list with another word made difficult by multiple different “s” and “c” sounds. Both the double “c” and the double “s” confuse people learning to pronounce this word, and the similar sounds in a row make it somewhat of a tongue twister.

You say this word as “Suck-sess-full.”

These Are the Hardest Words to Pronounce in English: Are You Up for the Challenge?

English likes to make seemingly random changes to rules and pronunciation, as you can see from this list. These are some of the hardest words to pronounce in the entire language, so if you can be successful with these, you’re on the right track.

If you think you need some extra help, contact us and we can set you up with a 7-day free trial of our pronunciation program.

English Pronunciation & Fluency Expert
Annie Ruden M.S.CCC-SLP
CEO | Accent Reduction Trainer

Be Understood. Be Confident.

But a handful of irritating—and common—words and phrases can undermine your hard work. “Words are powerful things, and some words and phrases can really have a negative kind of energy,” says communication coach Alan Samuel Cohen, author of The Connection Challenge: How Executives Create Power and Possibility in the Age of Distraction. At best, such phrases are distracting. In the worst-case scenario, they can actually trigger a strong negative reaction in your counterpart, either to the conversation or to you.

While it’s impossible to police every word you say—and people are going to hear what they’re going to hear, Cohen says—there are better options to consider.

“But”

Whenever you use the word “but” as a conjunction, the first part of your sentence immediately becomes qualified by the second part. Saying “I love you, but . . .” or “That’s a great idea, but . . . ” calls the first phrase into question, says leadership and career coach Jennifer McKay, founder of Mckay Coaching and Consulting. “In the second half of the sentence we’ve already moved on to something contrary,” she says.

Say it better: Simply stop after the statement. If you must add a conjunction and second phrase, use “and.” For example, “That’s a great idea, and we can look at it more closely.”

“This might be stupid/silly”

When you use self-deprecating language before you put forth your ideas, you’re immediately diluting others’ confidence in you and giving them permission to dismiss you, says Ellie Eckhoff, senior vice president at ClearRock, a leadership-development and executive-coaching firm.

“Some people might start with, ‘This might not be a good idea, maybe we’ve already done this, this might not work,’” she says. “So, starting the conversation with minimizing what they’re going to offer.”

English has 3,000 words for being drunk

Dry January is almost over, and temporary teetotallers everywhere will soon be back on the booze. That word ‘booze’ tends to conjure up a certain amount of slurring, with perhaps a swig of decadence thrown in. It also sounds distinctly modern. It is, in fact, over five centuries old, having slipped into English from the Dutch word buizen, to drink to excess. It gets an early mention in the Elizabethan play Jack Drum’s Entertainmentand the pithy statement ‘You must needs bouze’ – a sentiment with which few of January’s hydropots (one term for water-drinkers) would disagree.

‘Booze’ was once a popular term in the slang or ‘cant’ of the criminal underworld, which may explain its rebellious overtones today. But whether formally or informally, when it comes to alcohol, English has been hard at work for centuries. ‘Alcohol’ itself is 800 years old, taken from the Spanish Arabic al-kuḥul which meant ‘the kohl’, linking it with the same black eye cosmetic you’ll find on any modern make-up counter. The term was originally applied to powders or essences obtained by alchemists through the process of distillation. This included both unguents for the face as well as liquid spirits of the intoxicating kind.

The only subjects that fill the pages of English slang more are money and sex

The heady result has been with us ever since. Purveyors of the strong stuff have invited hundreds of epithets over a millennium or more. Drinkers of the past would happily visit ‘the Lushington crib’, ‘shicker shop’, or ‘fuddle-caps hall’ (ie the local pub) to sample the offerings of the landlord – aka the jolly ‘knight of the spigot’.

The concoctions those knights dispensed fill an even richer lexicon, veering from the euphemistic ‘tiger’s milk’ to the blatant invitation of ‘strip-me-naked’. Add those to the 3,000 words English currently holds for the state of being drunk (including ‘ramsquaddled’, ‘obfusticated’, ‘tight as a tick’, and the curious ‘been too free with Sir Richard’) and you’ll find that the only subjects that fill the pages of English slang more are money and sex.

Such a lush lexicon makes it all the harder to forsake alcohol for a whole month. Those who’ve made it, however, can console themselves with the fact that they have enjoyed weeks without the unpleasantness of feeling ‘crapulent’, ‘cropsick’, or ‘wamble-cropped’: three beautifully expressive words for the dreaded hangover.

In days gone by, drinkers opted for extreme cure-alls for the morning after the night before, from the ashes of a crab to the drinking of vinegar, although the wealthier might have preferred dropping an amethyst into their glass before imbibing. ‘Amethyst’ itself came to the language from the Ancient Greek amethustos, which means ‘not drunken’, because the stone was once believed to hold magical properties that prevented intoxication.

Meanwhile, the idea of having a ‘hair of the dog (that bit you)’ was once entirely literal. In the Middle Ages, anyone bitten by a stray dog would run after the offending animal in an attempt to pluck out one of its hairs: a poultice with that hair was believed to greatly ease the post-drinking blues (what in German they call a Katzenjammer, in which the drinker’s moans are compared to the wailing of a very miserable cat). It is probably entirely appropriate that the word ‘poison’ is rooted in the Latin potare, to drink.

‘Drunk as a thrush’

Those on the wagon can afford a smug smile over shenanigans like these. The wagon in question originally carried water around small town America during the temperance movement, when citizens were urged to embrace ‘tee-totallism’, in which the ‘tee’ was there simply to give emphasis to the first letter of Total.

The idea soon crossed to Britain, where abstinence battled with the thrill of being ‘drunk as a lord’, an expression from the 17th Century that’s curiously linked to the swear-word ‘bloody’. The expletive is thought to have begun with the ‘bloods’ or aristocratic rowdies of the same period, when to be ‘bloody drunk’ was to be as ‘drunk as a blood’ – in other words, as sloshed as a posh hooligan. There was, it seems, nothing these bloods liked more than painting the town red, another phrase in the drinking arsenal that the town of Melton Mowbray near Leicester in the East Midlands of England has claimed for its own, thanks to a night when the Marquis of Waterford and a group of friends ran riot with pots of scarlet paint.

The adjective ‘bridal’ began as ‘bride-ale’, and was used of a wedding feast that featured plenty of the strong stuff

For all that partakers in dry January have avoided such results of befuddlement directly, it would be hard to do so with their more metaphorical tongues, for drinking is behind a surprising number of words that have since hidden their tipsy history. The adjective ‘bridal’ began as ‘bride-ale’, and was used of a wedding feast that featured plenty of the strong stuff. ‘Small beer’, on the other hand, was a heavily watered-down version of the original, enjoyed by both children and adults when drinking water could prove a lot more perilous than ale.

While we like nothing better than lampooning politicians on social media these days, that word too has its roots in guzzling. ‘Lampons!’, for the French, meant ‘let us drink!’, and was an exhortation to merry revellers to pick up their glasses and sing a song or two. As those songs tended to be mocking and satirical, so our modern sense of ridicule crept in. Lampooning and carousing went together – appropriately enough given that ‘carouse’ is from the German gar aus trinken, meaning ‘drink to the bottom of the glass’.

There’s an even more surprising word to add to this list. We may be ‘pissed as a newt’ these days, but for the Romans the image of choice would be ‘drunk as a thrush’, an allusion it seems to the bird’s merry tottering around vineyards after feasting on fermented grapes. Bizarrely, our English word ‘sturdy’ may go back to the Latin turdus, thrush. Anyone described as ‘sturdy’ in the 1200s was wilfully reckless and possibly as immovable as a sozzled bird.

Birds do it, newts do it, even educated lords do it: the pull of getting groggy seems hard to resist. Especially if you’re a sailor, whose associations with rum are legendary. Fittingly, ‘groggy’ itself was born on the high seas thanks to the English naval officer Admiral Edward Vernon, nicknamed Old Grog on account of his thick coat made of coarse grogram cloth. It was Vernon who gave the unhappy order that his sailors’ rations of rum should be diluted with water. He surely would not, then, have approved of two expressions that emerged in the sailors’ slang of his day.

An Admiral of the Narrow Seas is defined in Francis Grose’s 1785 Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongueas “one who from drunkenness vomits into the lap of the person sitting opposite him”. (Worse still, a Vice-Admiral of those same seas is ‘a drunken man that pisses under the table into his companion’s shoes’.) Not for nothing, perhaps, were those who liked to throw back their mug of beer and drink its contents with relish known as ‘tosspots’ from the start.

Tosspot or hydropot, English has lessons for us all. And if a pint of foaming ale or glass of tantalizing red is beckoning from the hands of February, cheers. And don’t forget your amethyst.

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Before we get too deep into the search for the world’s most difficult word to pronounce, we’ll have to start with a bit of soul-searching around that question. Words that are difficult for a native French speaker to pronounce may look vastly different from words that a native Mandarin speaker might struggle with. Just because Icelandic looks outlandish to an English speaker doesn’t mean it’s an objectively challenging language to pronounce. Just ask a native Icelander!

Rather than try to boil it down to one definitive “most difficult word to pronounce,” we might have to look at a few examples from a number of languages (and admit that we’re looking at this from the perspective of Anglophones).

But first, what is it, exactly, that makes some words easier or harder to pronounce?

The Mechanics Of Pronunciation

Usually, pronunciation struggles in a foreign language can be attributed to two types of missed connections: a disconnect between how a word is spelled and how it’s spoken, or a disconnect between the mouth positions you’re accustomed to and the ones used by speakers of your target language.

That words are often not phonetically reliable is a big pain point for language learners, and it’s one of the things non-native speakers often complain about most when studying English. Exhibit A: “choir.”

The physical movements of your mouth, tongue and teeth are also a big determining factor in how well you nail your foreign accent. Sometimes, getting used to an unfamiliar sound is truly a matter of muscle memory.

Beyond that, there are certain types of sounds that may be universally tricky for the human mouth to handle, regardless of how familiar you are with the words that contain them. Among these are rolled “r”s, “ths” (as in “baths”) and the Czech ř.

The Most Difficult English Word To Pronounce

If English is your mother tongue, you probably never gave much thought to how challenging it can be to master English pronunciation as an adult. Still, there are English words that even natives struggle with.

One Reddit user opened up this can of worms, and after more than 5,000 submissions, the Reddit community came up with this list of “10 most difficult English words to pronounce”:

  • Rural
  • Otorhinolaryngologist
  • Colonel
  • Penguin
  • Sixth
  • Isthmus
  • Anemone
  • Squirrel
  • Choir
  • Worcestershire

The Most Difficult…

If we expand our inquiry to every other language in the world, the options (and the level of subjectivity) will only increase further.

Admittedly, these following possibilities were selected from the point of view of an English speaker. Here are a few contenders:

German

Fünfhundertfünfundfünfzig: five hundred fifty-five

Russian

мгла (mgla): haze

(Via Wiktionary)

Chinese

日(rì): day (seriously, just listen to it)

Estonian

Jõululaululaulja: Christmas caroller

Welsh

Llanhyfryddawelllehynafolybarcudprindanfygythiadtrienusyrhafnauole: The unofficial name of a village in Wales

Icelandic

Vaðlaheiðarvegavinnuverkfærageymsluskúraútidyralyklakippuhringur: A keychain ring for the outdoor key of road workers shed in a moor called Vaðlaheiði

Tricks to Tackle the Top 10 Hardest Spanish Words to Pronounce

It’s the ugliest lemon of a car you’ve ever seen.

You’ve just got to point it out to your friend.

“Qué caro!” you exclaim, pointing across the street.

“…What are you talking about?” your friend replies.

Ah, language barrier misunderstandings. They’re inevitable, sometimes funny, sometimes embarrassing and very often caused by pronunciation problems.

In this case, you meant to say “What a car,” or “Qué carro.”

But instead, you shouted, “how expensive!”

There are two big milestones in foreign language pronunciation: the first one, focused on here, is being effortlessly understood, and the second—much, much harder—is sounding like a native speaker.

When aiming to be understood, we want to grasp the foundations of pronunciation—the key sounds and the rhythm and syllable stressing—to then later smooth out the details when we aim for perfection.

In this article, we’re going to focus on that first milestone and on correcting those words and aspects of Spanish pronunciation that English speakers struggle with the most.

We’ll point you to the 10 most difficult Spanish words to pronounce, each with a tip to master them and other words like them.

The Biggest English-speaker Difficulties in Spanish

There was an interesting Reddit discussion where someone asked what English speakers sound like to native Spanish speakers.

Commenters stressed things like the pronunciation of “b” (covered below), using English intonation (for example, that rising tone at the end of sentences to ask a question) and without a doubt, mispronunciation of “e” (pronouncing the name José as “hoe-ZAY” instead of “ho-SEH”).

The funniest clue that someone is an English speaker is that they’ll pronounce perro (dog) like pedo (fart).

The Spanish “r” is definitely at the top of the list of uphill battles for English speakers—both the rolled version and the single R—and it can be make or break being understood. Especially for telling the difference between words like caro (expensive) and carro (car)!

Vowels in Spanish are another one on the list. They’re choppy and short and all the same length, except when one vowel follows another. English speakers tend to vary the length of vowels, and they’ll often distort the sounds, as with the pronunciation of “e,” above.

When it comes to the letters “b” and “v,” English speakers struggle to let go of the “v” sound they’re used to, rather than pronounce the letter exactly like a “b.”

There are also a few sounds in Spanish that English speakers pronounce too harshly. These include the Spanish “d” and “t,” which are softer, with almost no air blown out. When pronouncing the “t” in Spanish, the tip of your tongue should just touch the back of your teeth.

How to Handle Spanish Pronunciation Difficulties

Exaggerate Sounds

In Spanish, almost all consonants, vowels and syllables are fully pronounced, with vigor, dedication and an open mouth. English speakers muffle a lot of the sounds in words and we join words together and close our mouths more.

So if it feels like you’re exaggerating in Spanish, that’s what you should do, and make it a habit.

Don’t Rely on English Vowel Sounds

While in English most vowels in everyday speech are pronounced as a schwa—a short “uh” sound—that isn’t the case in Spanish.

Making this switch, and pronouncing each vowel properly, makes all the difference.

Here are some more tips for nailing Spanish vowels:

  • The “a” in Spanish is always pronounced like a short version of the vowel in “art.”
  • The “e” is always pronounced “eh,” as in “bed” (but shorter).
  • The “i” is always pronounced like the “i” in “lick.”
  • The “o” is pronounced like the vowel in “long,” but shorter.
  • The “u” is pronounced like the vowel sounds in “could” or “put.”

In all cases, a wide open mouth is important to making these vowels sound natural.

Listen and Mimic

Really paying attention to how native speakers talk, and then trying to mimic that, will help with your overall pronunciation.

One scary but useful trick you can try is to record yourself (you’ll hear your flaws much more clearly that way) and then compare that to recordings made by native Spanish speakers. You’ll hear the discrepancies quite clearly and can practice listening and repeating those trouble areas.

For this learning method, make sure to use resources that provide authentic, native Spanish audio, like FluentU.

FluentU takes real-world videos, like music videos, commercials, news and inspiring talks, and turns them into Spanish learning experiences.

Other sites use scripted content. FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the Spanish language and culture over time. You’ll learn Spanish as it’s actually spoken by real people.

FluentU has a wide variety of videos—topics like soccer, TV shows, business, movies and even magical realism, as you can see here:

FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive transcripts. You can tap on any word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used. If you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can add it to a vocab list.

Review a complete interactive transcript under the Dialogue tab, and find words and phrases listed under Vocab.

Learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU’s robust learning engine. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.

The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning, and it recommends you examples and videos based on the words you’ve already learned. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning the same video.

Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, for iOS and Android devices.

Try Some Popular Tongue twisters

And if you really want to exercise your mouth and tongue, you can try out these popular Spanish tongue twisters for size:

Cuando cuentes cuentos, cuenta cuantos cuentos cuentas, porque si no cuentas cuantos cuentos cuentas nunca sabrás cuantos cuentos contaste. (When you tell stories, count how many stories you tell, because if you don’t count how many stories you tell, you’ll never know how many stories you told.)

Tres tigres tragaban trigo en un trigal, en tres tristes trastos, tragaban trigo tres tristes tigres. (Three tigers swallowed wheat in a wheat field, in three sad containers, three sad tigers swallowed wheat.)

Pepe peina pocos pelos pero peina peluqueros, peina Pepe peluqueros con el peine de los pelos. (Pepe combs few hairs, but he combs hairdressers, Pepe combs hairdressers with the hair comb.)

Join Some Words

In Spanish, we join words that start and end with the same letter.

For example, Qué es eso (What is that) is often pronounced “quee-so” (yes, like the word for cheese, but with a longer “e” sound) and Voy a hacer (I’m going to do…) is pronounced “boi a-ser.”

Be Comfortable with Speaking in a Very Different Way

When you switch from, say, Windows to Linux, or from eating dinner to eating desert, you don’t expect the same feelings and experiences to translate to that new thing.

To the extent that you can, you need to completely switch off English and your preconceived notions about how things should be said, and log yourself into a different system.

How to Handle the Top 10 Hardest Words to Pronounce in Spanish

Listed below are some of the hardest words to pronounce in Spanish. I’ve focused on more common words that people need to use. Master these and the rest is easy!

1. Impermeabilizante (Waterproof)

In rainy Latin American countries, you’ll use this word often. It can pour a lot in the rainy seasons. And to be honest, I’ve even seen a few Spanish speakers struggle with it.

The number of syllables and the vowel diphthong in the middle make it a hard one.

TIP: Break this down into separate syllables and say it slowly until you’re comfortable. There’s no rush!

“Im-peR-mi-a-bil-i-SAN-teh”

2. Ferrocarril (Railroad)

Two double “r’s” here in one word!

TIP: The “r” in Spanish is rolled both at the start of any word, and when they’re doubled, while a standalone “r” is also pronounced differently from English.

For many English speakers, these sounds are very hard, but they’re possible. When making any “r” sound in Spanish, the tip of your tongue should lightly touch the top of your mouth. Alternatively, to find the right position, say “t” in English. That’s where your tongue goes.

To roll the “r” then, the issue is getting your tongue, in that position, to vibrate. Breathe out of your mouth and let your tongue vibrate up and down. You can do it!

3. Desarrolladores (Developers)

This word is great fun. You have the double-whammy of “rr,” as well as “ll,” with lots of syllables to boot.

TIP: Correct pronunciation of “ll” depends on the country. But for much of Latin America, it’s the same as an English “y,” but a bit harder.

In Spain and in Argentina, “ll” is pronounced like the “j” in jump, and in Venezuela and Colombia, it’s pronounced somewhere between an English “y” and “j.”

4. Difícil, Fácil (Difficult, Easy)

The accents aren’t where you’d expect with these words, and many English speakers pronounce them “DI-fi-cil” and “fa-CIL,” instead of their correct pronunciations: “di-FI-cil” and “FA-cil.”

TIP: Note where the accents are and stress that syllable. Say the word ten times until your tongue can’t conceive of pronouncing it any other way.

5. Actualmente, Desafortunadamente, Probablemente (Currently, Unfortunately, Probably)

The temptation here would be to say the similar sounding English word, then add a “men-TAY” to the end.

TIP: Remember to pronounce the final “e” as “eh,” not “ay,” then break these words down into syllables and give each the same weight.

Turn your English off and say “des-a-for-tu-na-da-MEN-te” slowly at first, then accelerate to normal speaking speed.

6. Verde, Tarde (Green, Afternoon)

The “r-d” combination in Spanish is a really difficult move for the tongue—almost like quick tongue acrobatics.

TIP: Put your effort into the first syllable and that difficult “r,” then let the “d” be softer, and the “de” half of the word like an afterthought.

7. Estadística (Statistics)

People often get tongue-tied with this word, perhaps because it’s similar to English but with an extra syllable at the start. The number of “t’s” and “d’s” can also add to your troubles.

TIP: Note the stressed syllable in the middle and don’t stress yourself about the difference between “t” and “d” in this word. Pronounce that first syllable well, so that your mouth is aware you’re going into a Spanish word rather than English.

8. Huevos revueltos (Scrambled eggs)

The obstacle here would be that “v” is pronounced as a soft “b,” plus the double set of diphthongs (“ue”).

TIP: There’s no compromising. The “v” in Spanish is always pronounced as “b,” and in the middle of a word it’s a gentler version of a “b” with the lips barely touching.

To pronounce the diphthong, just say both vowel sounds, then blur them together. So “oo-eh” becomes “weh.”

9. Idea (Idea)

This is another one of those trick words that you’ll be tempted to pronounce just like you would in English. Resist this urge!

TIP: Practice pronouncing this: “ee-DEH-ah,” until it becomes natural to you!

10. Aeropuerto (Airport)

What a lot of vowels and diphthongs to boot, followed by those meddlesome “r’s!”

TIP: For the first diphthongs, just like the “ue” explained above, pronounce the two vowels until they merge together. So, “ah-eh” becomes “ay.”

Next, practice that “ue” followed by the “r.” Once you’ve mastered these two parts, you can build on the rest.

For even more troubling and tricky Spanish words, see here.

Mastering pronunciation can be a tough journey, though rewarding, and the bonus is that the better your pronunciation, the more you’ll understand as well—even in the worst situations, like over a crackly phone line!

Tamara Pearson is a journalist, teacher and language lover who has lived in Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela and now Mexico. She is also the author of The Butterfly Prison.

If you liked this post, something tells me that you’ll love FluentU, the best way to learn Spanish with real-world videos.

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Tongue Twisters

A tongue twister is a specific sequence of words whose rapid, repeated pronunciation is difficult even for native speakers.
Often these are similar words which follow one another but differ in certain syllables. Alliterations are also frequent.
In addition, some tongues are difficult because of their unusual word composition (sentence structure) and therefore require a high level of concentration.

Some Tongue twisters are made for amusement, but on the other hand, professional speakers such as actors, politicians, and television / radio hosts use them as articulation exercises.

Tongue Twisters to improve pronunciation in English

A collection of my favorite tongue twisters to warm up your lips and tongue …

Remember:

it’s not just how fast you say them, but how clearly too!
There are thousands of tongue twisters out there – here is a collection of some (short, long and small poems), whose text makes some sense, and which can also be used to speak more clearly.

  1. Classic Tongue Twisters
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. She sells sea shells by the seashore.
  5. Betty bought a bit of butter.
    But the butter Betty bought was bitter.
    so Betty bought a better butter,
    and it was better than the butter Betty bought before.
  6. Difficult Tongue Twisters
  7. Silly Sally swiftly shooed seven silly sheep.
    The seven silly sheep Silly Sally shooed
    Shilly-shallied south.
    These sheep shouldn’t sleep in a shack;
    Sheep should sleep in a shed.
  8. The sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick.
  9. Funny Tongue Twisters
  10. Round the rough and rugged rock the ragged rascal rudely ran.
  11. All I want is a proper cup of coffee,
    Made in a proper copper coffee pot
    I may be off my dot
    But I want a cup of coffee
    From a proper coffee pot.
    Tin coffee pots and iron coffee pots
    They’re no use to me –
    If I can’t have a proper cup of coffee
    In a proper copper coffee pot
    I’ll have a cup of tea.
  12. Amidst the mists and coldest frosts,
    With stoutest wrists and loudest boasts,
    He thrusts his fists against the posts,
    And still insists he sees the ghosts.
  13. Two tiny timid toads trying to trot to Tarrytown.
  14. Nine nimble noblemen nibbling nuts.
  15. Quizzical quiz, kiss me quick.
  16. Imagine an imaginary menagerie manager managing an imaginary menagerie.
  17. What a to do to die today
    At a minute or two to two
    A thing distinctly hard to say
    And harder still to do.
    For they’ll beat a tattoo at twenty to two
    A rat-tat-tat-Tat-tat-tat-Tat-tat-tat-too
    And the dragon will come when he hears the drum,
    At a minute or two to two today
    At a minute or two to two.
  18. Eve eating eagerly elegant Easter eggs.
  19. Ingenious iguanas improvising an intricate impromptu on impossibly-impractical instruments.
  20. These thousand tricky tongue twisters trip thrillingly off the tongue.
  21. Tongue Twisters for Kids
  22. A proper copper coffee pot.
  23. One-One was a racehorse.
    Two-Two was one, too.
    When One-One won one race,
    Two-Two won one, too.
  24. Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear. Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair. Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn’t fuzzy, was he?
  25. Which wristwatches are Swiss wristwatches?
  26. If a dog chews shoes, whose shoes does he choose?
  27. Easy Tongue Twisters
  28. He threw three free throws.
  29. I slit the sheet, the sheet I slit, and on the slitted sheet I sit.
  30. If you notice this notice, you will notice that this notice is not worth noticing.
  31. Nine nice night nurses nursing nicely.
  32. I like New York, unique New York, I like unique New York.
  33. Four fine fresh fish for you.
  34. A proper cup of coffee from a proper copper coffee pot.
  35. Short Tongue Twisters (3x)
  36. Six sticky skeletons.
  37. Which witch is which?
  38. She sees cheese.
  39. Stupid superstition.
  40. Eleven benevolent elephants.
  41. Truly rural.
  42. Tongue Twisters About Thinking & Feeling
  43. Three thin thinkers thinking thick thoughtful thoughts.
  44. Of all the felt I ever felt,
    I never felt a piece of felt
    which felt as fine as that felt felt,
    when first I felt that felt hat’s felt.
  45. I wish to wish the wish you wish to wish,
    but if you wish the wish the witch wishes,
    I won’t wish the wish you wish to wish.
  46. I thought, I thought of thinking of thanking you.
  47. 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 so much.

Some rare rephrased proverbs which need some thinking in order to be understood.

A contrived but very witty conversation between George Bush and Condoleezza Rice: Who is HU? The new leader of China?

50 Dirty Jokes That Are Totally Inappropriate But Also Hilarious

By Sylvie Quinn Updated September 10, 2018 These are some funny things to say. Why did we compile this list of funny things to say? Because this is a very serious world, and sometimes it’s nice to just laugh out loud. With the help of these verbal pranks, you can do just that. Follow our careful instructions on how to get your family and friends to say some seriously funny things. By Sylvie Quinn Updated September 10, 2018 Quote Catalog

1.

Tell someone to say “We Todd Ed” ten times fast.

2.

Ask a girl to look down and then spell the word “attic.”

3.

Tell someone to say “eye” and then spell “cup.”

4.

Ask someone to say “Gabe itches” ten times fast.

5.

Say “sofa king awesome” ten times fast.

6.

Tell a guy to say “my dixie wrecked” ten times fast.

7.

Ask someone to hold their tongue and say, “I was born on a pirate ship.”

8.

Ask someone to spell the word “pots.” Then ask them the following question: “What do you do at a green light?”

9.

Ask a guy to say “nis I have no p” ten times fast.

10.

Ask a girl to say “Jyna I have a va” tent times fast?

11.

Say the following out loud: “ i 1 2 ½ 6.”

12.

Tell someone to spell “i-HOP” and then say “ness.”

13.

Ask anyone to say “eye” and then spell “map” and then say “ness.”

14.

Say “Alpha Kenny body” ten times slowly

15.

Say “Ice Bank Mice Elf” ten times fast.

16.

Ask someone to say “I eat mop who” ten times fast.

17.

Tell someone to spell “pig” backwards and then say “pretty colors.”