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There are two very common ways in Spanish to say the equivalent of "again":

  • de nuevo
  • otra vez

But I use them pretty randomly because I've never been able to pick up on any differences in how native speakers use them. Are there any differences?

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3 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Para salir de dudas, recurrí al Servicio de Consultas de la RAE y transcribo aquí la respuesta que recibí:

En relación con su consulta, le remitimos la siguiente información:

Ambas expresiones se emplean con el mismo sentido y en situaciones semejantes, sin que quepa establecer diferencias. Tan solo en algunos contextos solo se emplearía una, como en el caso de que, por ejemplo, alguien muestre hastío ante la reiteración de alguien en alguna acción o palabra; en este caso, solo se diría "¿Otra vez?", pero muy raramente se diría "¿De nuevo?".

Sin embargo, insistimos, se emplean con idéntico significado y en las mismas condiciones.

Así que, las dos expresiones son completamente equivalentes, salvo en algunos contextos muy específicos, como el del ejemplo que aparece en el texto citado.

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They are used pretty much interchangeably. Check this page, "Saying again in Spanish", it has some examples.

There are some expressions in English where you would use "again", but that in Spanish change form or that are slightly different:

  • Never again = ¡nunca más! or ¡nunca jamás!;
  • Again and again = una y otra vez;
  • Now and again (also from time to time / every so often) = de vez en cuando;
  • Then again = por otra parte (synonym of además in this case).
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I would say that "de nuevo" or "nuevamente" sounds more like "all over again", while "otra vez" is just "again".

Examples:

  • Tengo que hacerlo de nuevo. — I have to do it all over again.
  • Tengo que hacerlo otra vez. — I have to do it again.

As noted, these differences are very subtle, in many cases "de nuevo", "nuevamente" and "otra vez" can be used interchangeably. However in some cases "de nuevo" ("nuevamente") is used in meaning "anew", then changing it for "otra vez" changes the meaning of the sentence slightly.

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I don't agree with this. In your example, "de nuevo" and "otra vez" are completely interchangeable; only context will determine if the intended meaning is that of "all over again". –  Gonzalo Medina Nov 21 '11 at 16:01
    
@GonzaloMedina: I do agree that they are very similar. But it you look at examples at spanish.about.com/cs/vocabulary/qt/againqt.htm, you'll see that these sentences will just not sound good if you exchange "de nuevo" for "otra vez". I do agree that other way around it works. –  vartec Nov 21 '11 at 16:05
    
@GonzaloMedina: actually native Spanish speaker (from Spain) would say exactly that. Example: atrapalo.com/viajes/… –  vartec Nov 21 '11 at 16:17
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