Neuf vs Nouveau

Neuf vs nouveau
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French foes

The French adjectives neuf and nouveau can be tricky for French students because they are both equivalent to "new" but are not interchangeable. Here’s a new look at these timeless French foes.

Neuf = objectively new

Neuf is used for something that is objectively new: brand new, new to the world, never used.

Par exemple…

C’est un livre neuf.   It’s a brand-new book (I’m the first owner).
J’ai trouvé un restaurant neuf.   I found a new restaurant (it just opened).
Maison neuve à vendre   New (just-built) house for sale
Il lance une théorie neuve.   He’s advancing a brand-new theory.
J’ai mis des chaussettes neuves.   I put on some (brand-new) socks.

French antonym Antonym: vieux (old)

 Grammar notes

Like most French adjectives, neuf follows the noun it modifies and has four forms to agree in gender and number with the noun it modifies:

  masculine feminine
singular neuf neuve
plural neufs neuves

Noun: le neuf = something new. See expressions with neuf / nouveau.

Homonym: neuf is also the number "nine"

Nouveau = subjectively new

Nouveau means new to the speaker, a new possession, "new to me," different than its predecessor.

Par exemple…

C’est un nouveau livre d’occasion.   It’s a new (to me) used book.
J’ai trouvé un nouveau restaurant.   I found a new restaurant (I’ve never eaten there).
Nous achetons une nouvelle maison de 1875.   We’re buying a new (to us) house built in 1875.
Il lance une nouvelle théorie.   He’s advancing a new theory (he gave up on the previous one).
J’ai mis de nouvelles chaussettes.   I put on some new (clean) socks.

French antonym Antonym: ancien (former)

 Grammar notes

Unlike most French adjectives, nouveau usually precedes the noun it modifies (but see movable adjectives). It has four forms to agree in gender and number …

  masculine feminine
singular nouveau nouvelle
plural nouveaux nouvelles

… as well as a fifth form, nouvel, for masculine nouns that begin with a vowel.

Nouns

  • une nouvelle = piece of news
  • les nouvelles = news (aka les actualités)
 Related lessons

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Nouveau vs neuf
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