Spanish Usage Questions: Ways to say "Again"
With a Bow to James Taylor...
Some readers will remember James Taylor's redundant usage in the line about wanting see his lost love... "one more time, again." Well, it felt right to dedicate this article to him -- and all the English speakers out there who struggle with the uses of "again" as they try to express in Spanish what they really mean.
Sometimes, we mean again in the sense of as before, a repeat performance, so to speak. If that is the case, use otra vez (vez means time in this sense of an occasion or event). This not exactly what James Taylor seems to have had in mind, as you'll see in a moment.
Quiero verla otra vez (I want to see her again -- as before).
The sense of otra vez then is of a repeat -- as a child might ask for a story to be repeated:
Cuéntame el cuento otra vez (Tell me the story again).
When you mean once more, as in when a Spanish professor asks you to repeat something just once more, use una vez más:
Dime una vez más: erre con erre... (Say for me just once more: erre con erre...)
When you mean to do something over again, as in a re-make or encore, use volver + a + infinitive:
Después de pintar la casa, tuvo que volver a hacerlo (After painting the house, he had to do it over again).
What James Taylor was thinking of seeing her one more time -- to have another go at their relationship (was it after he split with Carly Simon?). Here is how he could have expressed that wish, using de nuevo (anew, from new -- to get a fresh start, as in all over again):
Quiero estar contigo de nuevo (I want to be with you, start from new).