Fun English: Advanced Pronunciation Exercise—Test Your Skills

tongue-twistersAre you ready to have fun while practicing your pronunciation?

Below we’ve got a entertaining poem that shows the absurdities [ridiculousness] of English pronunciation.

The English language, as it’s written, is quite strange compared with languages like Spanish and Portuguese where words are always spelled like they are pronounced. Sure, there are rules for pronunciation, but a lot of times there’ll be words that have the same endings but sound different.

There are many words that have the same endings but sound completely different.

To know the correct spelling of the word often just takes memorization. We don’t like to always follow the rules in English!

So let’s get started.

How to Practice Your Pronunciation

The best way to use this poem to practice/test your pronunciation is to:

1. Read the poem out loud [speaking]. Do your best to read with a good rhythm as it will help your pronunciation.

2. Look at the definitions of any of the bolded words below that you don’t know.

3. Listen closely to my recording of the poem while you read along. Do your best to notice any errors you made in pronunciation.

4. Read the poem out loud again. Focusing on speaking with the same rhythm and flow as the native speaker.

5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you can read the poem flawlessly [without making any mistakes]

6. Study the poem more carefully, examining the strange pronunciation of the words.

The Poem

  • Direct Download to Computer on this page (From that page, you will right Click and Save)

I take it you already know

Of tough and bough and cough and dough

Others may stumble, but not you

On hiccough, thorough, laugh, and through.


And cork and work and card and ward

And font and front and word and sword

Well done! And now if you wish, perhaps

To learn of less familiar traps.


Beware of heard, a dreadful word

That looks like beard and sounds like bird.

And dead: it’s said like bed, not  bead–

For goodness sakes don’t call it deed.


Watch out for meat and great and threat,

They rhyme with suite and straight and debt.

A moth is not a moth in mother,

Nor both in bother, broth in brother.


And here is not a match for there,

And dear and fear for bear and pear.

And then there’s dose and rose and lose–

Just look them up–and goose and choose,


And do and go, then thwart and cart.

Come, come, I’ve hardly made a start!

A dreadful language? Man alive!

I’d mastered it when I was five.


  • I take it – I assume

  • Tough – strong, difficult to break

  • Bough – a main branch of a tree (uncommon)

  • Cough – to shoot air out from your lungs with a harsh sound, generally when sick.

  • Dough – the mixture of ingredients used to make bread, before being cooked

  • Stumble – make mistakes while speaking

  • Hiccough – an involuntary spasm that makes a funny noise and is almost impossible to stop (see video)

  • Thorough – when something is done carefully and completely

  • Cork – the brown stopper in the top of a wine bottle

  • Ward – a room for patients in a hospital

  • Font – a type/style of text. Examples: Times New Roman, Arial, Georgia, etc.

  • Dreadful – extremely bad

  • Bead – a small piece of glass, stone, or other material, usually round and used in jewelry or clothing.

  • For goodness sakes – to be surprised or annoyed by something

  • Deed – a brave or noble act

  • Threat – promising to inflict pain, injury, or death to someone

  • Suite – a fancy room in a hotel

  • Debt – when you owe money to someone

  • Moth – a colorless butterfly (see photo)

  • Bother – to annoy someone

  • Broth – the liquid part of a soup

  • Dose – a quantity of medicine or drug

  • Rose – a beautiful flower (see photo)

  • Goose – a large white bird, similar to a duck (see photo)

  • Thwart – to prevent someone from accomplishing something

  • Cart – a vehicle used for carrying stuff.

  • Man alive – used to express shock (not very common)

Did you like what you read?

Real Life English loves making English learning fun and educational.

To stay up-to-date [current] with everything that happens in the Real Life English Community, be sure to sign up for our weekly newsletter and receive our FREE “Make English a Part of Your Life” Mini-Course.

Also, check out some other Fun English articles below.


  1. Ludmila Karen on July 29, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    Crazy poem, it's a big tongue twister… hahahaha Nice work Trevor!

  2. Rodrigo Penna on July 29, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    Amazing and helpful as usual! Keep it up, brotha!

  3. Daniel De Almeida Santos on July 31, 2013 at 1:38 am

    Awesome work

  4. Shereen Qader on August 1, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    nice not so difficult.

  5. Muhammad Yogma Al-Waigami on August 7, 2013 at 4:46 am

    After I heard this, I just wanna say waw awesome..
    Good job dude, keep it up.. 🙂

  6. Cheah Cheebeng on January 3, 2015 at 8:03 am

    Good pronunciation exercise, tks.

  7. Brian Colwell on April 16, 2015 at 8:37 pm

    Good exercise. You may want to re-record the poem, however, as 'bough' should rhyme with "bow," as in "to bow down before the queen" as opposed to the sound of "bow" in "to tie a bow." Thank you.

  8. Cris Cabianca on April 25, 2016 at 1:11 am

    Simply loved it! Thanks!

  9. Mariana Alza Spilborghs on December 7, 2016 at 7:38 am

    Hi! Couldn’t find your record to listen. Am I missing something here?

    • Justin Murray on December 9, 2016 at 1:56 pm

      Hey Mariana, Sorry we had some format problems, but I just fixed it. Now you should be able to listen. Thanks for letting us know!

  10. Cristina Cortina Farràs on February 16, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    Lovely resource! However, I noticed in the recording bough is pronounced /bəʊ/ (rhyme with dough), when its actual pronunciation is /baʊ/. It’s a shame, any chance you could get it fixed?

  11. valeria on October 28, 2017 at 11:40 pm

    thanks so much!

  12. Aya on January 16, 2018 at 2:35 am

    Easy peasy

Leave a Comment