Pronouncing OE in French

Whether it's an 'OE' or a 'Œ,' learning to pronounce this combination of French vowels is a little tricky. That's because the sound can change from one word to the next, though there is a common pronunciation. This French lesson will help you navigate the complexities of 'OE' in French words.

How to Pronounce 'OE' in French

The letters 'OE' are usually combined into a single symbol in French: Œ or œ. When a pair of characters is used in such a way, it is called a digraph.

The Œ is pronounced more or less according to the same rules as 'EU'. In general, if it's in an open syllable, it sounds like the 'U' in "full": listen. In a closed syllable, it is pronounced with the mouth just a little more open: listen.

There are quite a few exceptions to this, however. It is important to use a dictionary when trying to determine the pronunciation of any word with 'OE.'

You will also find Œ in words that would otherwise begin with the combination 'EUI.' It will look like this 'ŒIL' and sounds like the 'OO' in "good" followed by a 'Y' sound.

French Words With 'OE'

To practice your pronunciation of 'Œ,' give these simple words a try. Click on the word to hear the correct pronunciation and try to repeat it.

How to Type the Œ

When you're typing out French words, how do you type the digraph? There are a few ways to go about it and which you choose will depend on how often you use special characters on your computer.

Your options include an international keyboard, which can be as simple as a setting in your operating system. If you use these characters on a very limited basis, your better option may be to learn the ALT codes.

To type œ or Œ, on a standard US-English keyboard, you will need the keyboard shortcut.

  • For Windows, this is ALT + 0156 for the lowercase and ALT + 0140 for the uppercase.
  • For Mac, it is typically ALT + q and the shift key transforms it into upper case (OS Sierra may be slightly different). 
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Team, ThoughtCo. "Pronouncing OE in French." ThoughtCo, Dec. 6, 2021, Team, ThoughtCo. (2021, December 6). Pronouncing OE in French. Retrieved from Team, ThoughtCo. "Pronouncing OE in French." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 31, 2023).