Learn the right pronunciation of the French letters EU

Updated: December 29, 2023 by Mylene in PhoneticArray  ▪  

how to pronounce french letters eu

Learning how to pronounce the French letters EU and their different pronunciations can be tricky for many persons learning French. A large number of words in French are made from combinations of letters, such as the letters EU, which is composed of the letter E and the letter U.

In this post, you’ll learn:

Closed EU /ø/ vs. Opened EU /œ/

Many French words are written with EU which is the combination of the letter E and the letter U. However, the sound of this combination of letters isn’t always the same

As many French words are written with OEUEU, or OE, we will cover the pronunciation of these combinations of French letters. The goal is to learn to recognize the pronunciation of the combined letters EU in French at a glance.

Check the following words, how do you pronounce EU in French?

  • heure: pronounced /œʁ/ hour
  • jeu: pronounced /ʒø/ game
  • feu: pronounced /fø/ fire
  • fleuve: pronounced /flœv/ river

What about the pronunciation of OEU and OE in French? Here is another set of French words that include the combinations OEU and OE:

  • soeur: pronounced /sœʁ/ sister
  • coeur: pronounced /kœʁ/ heart
  • oeil: pronounced /œj/ eye

Some French words can be difficult to pronounce, read this article to discover difficult words to pronounce in French.

As for the remaining part of this article, we’ll learn how to pronounce the two oral vowels that are proper to the French letters EU. In fact, EU can have 2 different pronunciations in French:

Pronunciation of the closed EU vowel

It generally occurs at the end of a word and is mostly written EU in that case. Let’s see some examples:

  • peu: pronounced /pø/ little
  • ceux: pronounced /sø/ those
  • deux: pronounced /dø/ two
  • je veux: pronounced/vø/ I want
  • vieux: pronounced /vjø/old

There are some exceptions where the closed EU is followed by a pronounced consonant. Check the following words:

Pronunciation of the Opened EU vowel

EU is an open vowel.

This open character of the vowel tends to occur in syllables that end in a consonant. The last consonant of the syllable is pronounced. 

  • EU
  • OEU
  • OE


  • neuf: pronounced /nœf/ nine
  • seul: pronounced /sœl/ alone
  • heure: pronounced /œʁ/ butter
  • ils peuvent: pronounced /pœv/ they can


  • œuf: pronounced /œf/ egg
  • cœur: pronounced /kœʁ/ heart
  • œuvre: pronounced /œvʁ/ work


  • oeil: pronounced /œj/ eyes

Pronunciation of EU in French (a video)

Watch the following video in which I explain the different pronunciations of the letters EU. Listen and learn the right pronunciation of many words that contain EU in French. 

This video is part of the live French lessons that you can join on Master Your French on YouTube.

YouTube player

Watch this video to learn how to pronounce the French letters EU. To follow more updates, subscribe to the YouTube channel and follow me on Instagram.

Let’s connect

Thanks for reading! 

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Suggested Reading

The 4 rules that really matter when it comes to pronouncing the mute E in French

pronunciation of the mute e in french

This post is also available in Français.

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