Confusion about the translation of new, newer and newest
June 16, 2020
June 23, 2020
Salut MichaelH133 !
Thank you for your question!
Nouveau is an adjective that can give English speakers some trouble in French. First of all, let's clarify that there are two French adjectives that mean "new": nouveau and neuf. Nouveau is used when you're talking about something that is subjectively new (i.e. new to you). Neuf is used when you're talking about something that is objectively new (i.e. new in general, to everyone) and it also has the connotation of being recent (e.g. recently created).
For example: la nouvelle voiture "the new car" means that the car is new to you, but not that it's a brand new, unused car. La voiture neuve "the new car," on the other hand, means that the car is brand new, and no one has ever owned it before. (Notice how nouvelle comes before the noun and neuve comes after.)
The adjective forms of nouveau are as follows:
masculine singular: nouveau
masculine singular before a noun starting with a vowel sound: nouvel
feminine singular: nouvelle
masculine plural: nouveaux
feminine plural: nouvelles
The adjective forms of neuf are as follows:
masculine singular: neuf
feminine singular: neuve
masculine plural: neufs
feminine plural: neuves
Now, when we get to comparatives and want to say "newer," you shouldn't use plus nouveau: for many native speakers of standard French, plus nouveau simply sounds wrong. The reasoning behind this might be that something cannot be more or less new to you - it simply is new to you or it isn't. However, it is very possible for something to be more recently made than something else, and so plus neuf is an acceptable comparative meaning "newer."
I hope that this helps to clear everything up! Do let me know if you still have any questions!
June 23, 2020
June 29, 2020
February 7, 2021
Hopefully I'm not the only person who reads previous forum posts. This is a good question and answer. However, there's a minor typo in the answer.
masculine singular before a noun: nouvel, should read, masculine singular before a noun that begins with a vowel or silent h.
And rather than leave it at that, I will add that nouveau also has two nifty adverbial forms:
de nouveau (again, once again) and
à nouveau (once more, once again)
And from Wiktionary:
“Although informal French and some recent dictionaries tend to ignore it, traditional usage establishes a nuance between à nouveau and de nouveau. “Expliquer à nouveau (quelque chose)” means to explain (something) in a different way, on a new basis, as if it were the first time. “Expliquer de nouveau” simply means to explain it once again.”
February 8, 2021
Salut RobertC106 !
Thank you very much for pointing that out - indeed, something seems to have happened there with part of the explanation on nouvel! I'll update it so that anyone who's taking a quick read through the answer will get the right impression. :)
Merci encore, et bonne journée !