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I'd never heard the word before and yet it seems to be the preferred way to say "to take off" an article of clothing:   "Elle a ôté son manteau."  

I see it's used in math -- 6 ôté de 10 égale 4 (6 taken from 10 equals 4).  

I also see it's used to mean "to take away" where I would use "enlever."  Are these two verbs interchangeable, or are there times when one is preferred?  


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"retirer" is another word I know for "to remove clothes or jewelry"

Regarding clothing they are interchangeable and there are no real preferences

Enlève ton manteau, ote ton manteau

Ote ton pantalon, Enlève ton pantalon

Oter is more familiar than enlever, with your friends and family you can tell them ote ton manteau while in business we would prefer voulez vous enlever votre manteau

Regarding math - you could use enlever as well but ôter is the preferred one's

Another expression widely used is : Ote-toi de là (move - if you in the way - OR budge up - if you want to take his place)

you wouldn't use "retirer" to remove clothes?  I have the example "Il a retirè son pull."  

I see that "soustraire" is also used in math and as "to remove."  Is this used differently or less often?      

Retirer - correct - That's another possibility . French offers so many possibilities .... 

Soustraire - correct as well - 

Let me give you an example. If you are teaching kids on subtraction here are several ways for the same thing 

Si tu soustrais 3 de 10 combien reste-t-il ?

Si tu enlèves 3 de 10 combien reste-t-il ?

Si tu ôtes 3 à 10 combien reste-t-il ?

10 - (minus) 3, ça fait combien ?

Guess what. The last sentence is the most used because it's the most simple and understandable

Most people are lazy when it comes to speak languague. Try to practice it orally and choose your own way  .

Thanks for your 2 latest very helpful posts.  I anticipated "soustraire" would correspond with "subtract."  You say "10 minus 5."  It's rare to hear "5 subtracted from 10" but you do say  "Don't forget to subtract 5."      


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