Learning some French riddles and playing with a French-speaking friend are great ways to practice if you know a little French.
A good riddle can be enjoyed in any language. This page contains French tongue twisters and riddles. The most obvious reason to learn French through riddles is that it’s a lot of fun!
We all know that when we enjoy something, we tend to do more of it, so why not channel your passion for puzzles into good French study habits?
Many riddles feature one-word answers, and to complete the puzzle; you’ll have to recall a large amount of vocabulary while looking for the solution. This enhances your memory while allowing you to practice a large amount of language.
Here are the French Riddles:
Toujours premier et jamais dernier, rien ne peut être achevé sans elle.Car sans elle, rien ne peut commencer. Qu’est-ce que c’est exactement ?
Always first and never last, Nothing can be completed without it. Because without it, nothing can begin. What exactly is it?
J’ai une casquette mais pas de tête. J’ai juste un pied et pas de jambes. Que suis-je exactement ?
I’ve got a cap but no head. I just have one foot and no legs. What exactly am I?
For this one, you’ll need to think about the French words because their English equivalents don’t match up.
L’extérieur est jeté et l’intérieur est cuit. L’extérieur est ensuite mangé et l’intérieur est jeté. Qu’est-ce que je suis?
The outside is discarded, and the inside is cooked. The exterior is then eaten, and the knowledge is discarded. What am I on about?
Je suis un petit rocher qui tombe dans une mer noire et disparaît dans un tourbillon étincelant. Que suis-je exactement ?
I’m a small rock that falls into a black sea and vanishes in a sparkling whirlpool. What exactly am I?
Je traverse les vitres sans les casser, qui suis-je ?
I pierce through windows without breaking them. What am I?’
Answer 1: Le début (the beginning)
Answer 2: Un champignon (a mushroom)
The answer is only in French because pied (foot) can also refer to the stalk of a mushroom.
Answer 3: Un épi de maïs (a corncob)
Answer 4: un carré de sucre (sugar cube)
Answer 5: Les rayons de Soleil (sun beam)
French tongue twisters
We’ve all heard of wild tongue twisters when we were younger, but aside from being a camp activity, tongue twisters may also be an excellent way to learn a foreign language.
It’s now your chance to speak French as quickly as the natives!
Tongue twisters will not teach you helpful vocabulary or phrases to use in conversation, but they will assist you in perfecting your accent as a French learner.
Si mon tonton tond ton tonton, ton tonton sera tondu.
Your uncle will be shaved if my uncle shaves him.
This tongue twister makes use of the similarity between ton (your) tonton (uncle) and tond (your) (to shave). Because these three words are pronounced identically in the French language, the statement requires 9 repetitions of the same sound simultaneously.
Je suis ce que je suis, et si je suis ce que je suis, qu’est-ce que je suis ?
I am who I am, and what am I if I am what I am?
This tongue twister follows a somewhat different set of rules. Rather than having many syllables with the same sound, this sentence repeats different words in other orders. I (I) am, ce (that), que (that), qu’est-ce (what), si (if).
These terms are used in various orders to convey meaning. As-tu vu le vert ver allant vers le verre en verre vert ?
Have you noticed the green worm making its way toward the green glass?
In this tongue twister, the words vert, ver, and vers have all been pronounced similarly. However, there is an additional challenge at the start: As-tu vu le vert needs a highly rounded vowel sound unknown in English, immediately followed by a torrent of ver sounds.
Les chaussettes de l’archiduchesse, sont-elles sèches ? Archi-sèches.
Are the Archduchess’s socks dry? Very arid.
The mingling of the sh and ss sounds, which occur naturally virtually side by side in chausette, archiduchesse, and sèche, makes this line challenging to enunciate.
Cinq chiens chassent six chats.
Five dogs are hunting six cats.
This line has the same sh/ss combination as the one above, but the range of nasal sounds adds another layer of difficulty for non-native speakers. This line introduces two of the four nasal sounds in French, cinq and chiens.
Ces cerises sont si sûres qu’on ne sait pas si c’en sont.
We’re curious if these cherries are edible.
The ss sound appears again, but it is paired with various vowels rather than the sh sound. The “c’en sont” at the end of a sentence, a false homophone pair for several languages, is of special interest to non-native speakers. In French, c’en, and sont are spoken with separate nasal vowel sounds, and because this pairing happens after the phrase, French learners must pay close attention to avoid mixing them up!
Dans la grande graisse grasse, cinq gros rats grillent.
These five obese rats grill in the fatty fat.
Even in English, this one is difficult to utter! We’ve replaced the ss sound with one of the most intricate French sounds for Anglophone learners to produce: r. In this example, it’s frequently combined with g to create a gr sound that repeats with a variety of vowel sounds.
J’ai désespérément besoin de jasmin et de jonquilles.
It wants and demands jonquils and jasmine.
A connection is required between je veux and j’exige so the sentence can slip another z sound into the end of veux. Because z and j are pronounced so close together in the mouth, switching from one to the other might be difficult.
Add to that the erroneous rhyme between exige and jonquilles, the latter of which demands a y sound where the double ls are, plus the repetition of the non-English sound j, and you’ve got yourself a mouthful!
Ces six saucisses sèches sont si sèches que vous ne savez même pas si elles sont sèches.
These six dry sausages are so dry that you’re not sure they’re even dry.
This tongue twister might sound familiar if you practiced the cherry one up top. More occurrences of the ss sound added the same fundamental structure to confuse your tongue further!
Un chasseur qui sait chasser ne chasse pas avec son chien.
Knowledgeable hunter does not hunt with their dog.
This tongue twister is a more complex variant of one we’ve seen previously – the one with dogs hunting cats. If you’ve mastered the previous version, it’s time to progress to more extensive and better things!