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This page suggests that neu/neuer is new/newer. This page suggests that "ein neuer Wagen" (a new car) is an identification of gender.

Is it true that neuer can stand for both - and thus the only way to figure out if it's newer or just new is by context?

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4 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Yes, both sources are correct. The regular comparative is formed with the ending -er, so "neuer" is the comparative of "neu":

neu, neuer, am neuesten

Then we have the endings in the declension of adjectives, and yes, for the indefinite article, the nominative ending is also -er:

ein neuer Wagen

Yes, it sounds confusing, but we all will just have to live with it ;)

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ist das nur bei mir so, oder hört man auch woanders folgenden vergleich: "ein neueres Auto als seines ...". hier liegt ja rein vom sinn ein vergleich vor, doch der Komparativ ist (wie festgestellt "neuer") der Superlativ ist jedoch("der/die/das neuste"). was ist "neuerer" für eine form (falls es sie überhaupt gibt) –  Vogel612 Apr 18 '13 at 15:27
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"neuerer" ist ein gebeugter Komparativ, also beide obigen Fälle zusammen: "ein neuerer Wagen" - "a newer car" –  Anke Apr 18 '13 at 15:37
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Yes, they can mean both. Now how to distinguish between them.

If an adjective stands in front of a noun it will get some sort of ending depending on case, preceding article and numerous. One possible ending is -er. The minimum ending is -e. There will never be no ending. So if you see "neuer" in front of a noun, the -er MUST be an ending and the word is hence just "new" (neuer - ending-er = neu). If neuer is not in front of a noun but rather a complement to a verb, then it means "newer" as it has no ending there.

Mein Wagen ist neu, aber deiner ist neuer.

If you have "newer" in front of a noun, then the basic adjective is "neuer". This will then get the appropriate ending leading to such beautiful words like... neuerer

Ein neuerer Wagen wäre ökologischer.

Side-note: I doubt that every German would notice if you said "neuererer" as long as you say it fast and with confidence. To some it might even feel right after you told them what you did.

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Of course, people notice when you say "neuererer", but they might think you are funny for doing that on purpose. –  Anke Apr 19 '13 at 6:29
    
Well, I have tried it with several native Speakers of German and they did not notice it... –  Emanuel Apr 19 '13 at 13:05
    
Are you sure they didn't just ignore it? Germans are very forgiving when non-native speakers make mistakes. In fact, most people will even try to switch the language when they detect your native language to be something they speak themselves. –  Anke Apr 19 '13 at 13:14
    
I am sure because I asked them afterwards whether they noticed it or not. Just to make sure... I am a native speaker of German myself and I tried it with friends just to see whether they would hear it or not :) –  Emanuel Apr 20 '13 at 19:09
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"Neuer" has two functions:

  1. the undeclined comparative of "neu"
  2. The declined adjective that means "new" when used before a masculine noun when the preceding word does not already express the gender (eg "ein neuer Wagen" but "der neue Wagen" since "der" already makes it clear that we're talking about masculine gender). Compare "neue", "neues" for feminine and neuter respectively.

Since 1) is not declined, then you will decline it when needed, so eg you will say

ein neuerer Wagen

or

Ich habe einen neueren Wagen

etc. (but "mein Wagen ist neuer", however there's no ambiguity since the non-comparative form would be "mein Wagen ist neu").

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a new car / a newer car:

ein neuer Wagen / ein neuerer Wagen
eine neue Kutsche / eine neuere Kutsche
ein neues Auto / ein neueres Auto

the car is new / the car is newer:

Der Wagen (die Kutsche, das Auto) ist neu. / Der Wagen ist neuer.

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I had not seen that this is an old question. Sorry for adding the noise. Anyway, an answer is an answer. –  Carsten Schultz Oct 1 '13 at 11:13
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