8 German words which are impossible for English native speakers to pronounce

8 German words which are impossible for English native speakers to pronounce
Friedrichstraße is one of Berlin's main streets, but it isn't easy for English native speakers to pronounce. Photo: DPA
We recently looked at the English words that Germans can’t pronounce. And now we are turning the tables and discovering the German words which native-English speakers struggle to say.

SEE ALSO: English words and sounds that Germans will never pronounce correctly

Das Schlittschuhlaufen

A tongue twister in itself, the German word for ice skating is a challenge for all non-native speakers. It is definitely one to practice before winter sets in and the Weihnachtsmarkt season arrives.

Not only does it include the difficult ‘sch’ sound twice, but the two ‘l’ sounds in the word can lead to confusion and sometimes the accidental addition of an extra ‘l’ in the ‘schuh’ part of the word.


The famous Berlin street is more of a challenge to pronounce than it seems at first glance. In fact, the three ‘r’ sounds in the word can cause pronunciation difficulties for non-native speakers who are yet to get the hang of the German ‘r’. We have included a video to help with the ‘r’ sound below.


A staple word for anyone living in Germany, the German word for ‘bread roll’ is particularly difficult for English native speakers to get their heads around.

Not only does it include the ‘ö’ and the ‘ch’ which all non-native speakers struggle with, but also the guttural German ‘r’.

Brötchen is certainly a word which we all need to practice before our next trip to the Backerei.

Geröntgt, from röntgen

If you break a bone anytime soon you might be faced with this word in the hospital, as röntgen is the German verb for ‘to x-ray’. It is only a real challenge as a past participle however, when it becomes geröntgt.

The ‘rö’ combination is the same as in brötchen, but here there is ‘tgt’ at the end of the word which is slightly intimidating.

Seufzte, from seufzen

The ‘eufz’ combination in seufzen (to sigh or to groan) is difficult to pronounce, but when the ‘t’ is added in the third person simple past form seufzte it is even more of a struggle.

The ‘fzt’ sound is hard to figure out and is certainly not something you would want to have to say without practicing first. The ‘s’ at the beginning of the word is more of an English ‘tz’ sound, which is the norm for a ‘s’ at the start of a word and followed by a vowel.


Perhaps the German word for sparkling cherry juice’ is not one you will use a lot whilst you are in Germany. However, if the time comes when you do need it, you’ll be glad we have given you a heads up so you have time to prepare.

The three ‘s’ sounds, 2 of them ‘sch’ sounds, are a mouthful,so perhaps it’s worth sticking with the trusty Apfelschorle until you have got some practice in.

Die Haftpflichtversicherung

The German word for ‘liability insurance’ features some difficult ‘f’ sounds which non-native speakers struggle to pronounce. The two ‘f’s are in close proximity to each other, and the ‘pf’ sound, as in Pferd (horse), is also a challenge.

The ‘v’ is also difficult for English native speakers, as it is pronounced more like an English ‘f’ than an English ‘v’ sound.

Tschechisches Streichholzschächtelchen

A bonus word, and not necessarily something that you’re likely to come across anytime soon in your regular German conversation, Tschechisches Streichholzschächtelchen translates as a ‘small czech matchbox’.

The word for matchbox (Streichholzschachtel) in itself is difficult, but this whole phrase is a complete tongue twister, and enough to put anyone off matchbox shopping in the Czech Republic anytime soon.

Here is a video to help you with all the different ‘ch’ sounds in the word.

Member comments

  1. Re your piece entitled ‘Eight German Words Which (should it be ‘that’?!) Are Impossible For English Native Speakers To Pronounce’. . . . a brilliant little article, especially with the links and videos. Well done to The for this! Not sure ‘impossible’ is quite fair but the challenge was fun, and I learned for the first time that scrambled eggs in German are ‘stirred eggs’. Never knew that!

  2. Re: transgender MP. He is a man and there is no way to change that fact no matter what he claims to be. We are born either male of female and that fact cannot be changed. He is a sick 3 letter word.

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