/ / EXPLAINED: 1 Simple Trick to ALWAYS Use Bien, Buen or Bueno in Spanish Right

EXPLAINED: 1 Simple Trick to ALWAYS Use Bien, Buen or Bueno in Spanish Right

BUEN vs BUENO vs BIEN: 1 Simple Trick to ALWAYS get it Right in Spanish 👏

Imagine you’re talking to a Spanish native speaker who’s helped you, and you want to say “Very good! You did a good job!”, and you start your sentence…

Muy… bueno… buen… bien… Hiciste un… bien trabajo… buen trabajo… bueno trabajo?

Frustrating, right? Well, my friend, after reading this piece, no te volverá a pasar (that won’t ever happen again), because I’ll show you simple techniques to always know when to use bien, buen, or bueno.

Even better: you won’t even have to remember the rules in conversations… You’ll just use it correctly automatically! To prove it, you’ll get a quiz at the end, so you can show off your new skills.

1. When to use bueno

Esta palabra puede ser un poco engañosa (This word might be a bit tricky) for non-Spanish speakers. Bueno o Buena is an adjective, y recuerda que un adjetivo (and remember that an adjective) describes a noun: usually people, animals, objects, or concepts. 

Bueno o buena generally indicates someone or something is “good, nice, kind, okay”, among other things. Por ejemplo (For example):

  • Jagger es un perro muy bueno (Jagger is a very good dog) —So, bueno describes un perro.
  • Fumar no es bueno para tu salud (Smoking is not good for your health) —Here, bueno describes fumar, a verb.
  • Esta temporada, las naranjas estuvieron buenas (This season, the oranges were good) —Here, buenas describes las naranjas (plural, feminine… that’s why it’s buenAS).

CHUNK ALERT! 

Talking about bueno, the best example I can give you is “¡Buenos días!” (Good day!)

It uses the plural form of bueno. Another easy-peasy chunk? ¡Buenas noches! (Good night!), and as you can see here, we are using the plural feminine form. 

These are the kinds of sentences that natives use all the time, and if you just learn them by heart, you won’t be so confused anymore! 

2. When to use buen

Okay, so when exactly would you use the word buen? Buen always precedes a masculine noun, re-buen tip, ¿no? (such a good tip, isn't it?) That’s basically it! 

The problem is remembering the rule and applying it in conversations, so just learn chunks with buen by heart and you won’t even HAVE to think about the grammar rule! 

Here we go:

  • ¡Buen trabajo, amigo mío! (Good job, my friend!)
  • ¡México es un buen país para visitar! (Mexico is a good country to visit!)
  • Este fin de semana hará buen tiempo (This weekend the weather will be good)

3. When to use bien

What about bien? Bien is an adverb and used, for example, to modify a verb: 

  • ¡Bailas muy bien! (You dance very well!)

CHUNK ALERT!

Muy bien is a chunk we use all the time. Learn it by heart to always get it right! 

Use bien to answer questions like ¿Cómo estás? (How are you?) or ¿Cómo te va? (How is it going?). In this case, the answer could be ¡Bien, gracias! (Fine, thanks!)

You can use bien to talk about your health: 

  • Hoy no me siento muy bien (I don’t feel very good today)
  • ¿Te encuentras bien? (Are you okay?)

Bien is not only used when something is done correctly or properly, but also when something isn’t. Veamos ambos ejemplos (Let’s see both examples):

  • ¡Muy bien hecho! (Well done!)  
  • Mi laptop no funciona bien (My laptop doesn’t work well)

Sometimes, bien is also used as a synonym for muy (very):

  • Esta carne está bien jugosa (This meat is very juicy) —Bien jugosa is the same as muy jugosa.
  • Lizzie termina bien cansada después del trabajo (Lizzie ends up very tired after work) —Bien cansada is the same as muy cansada.

That’s a lot, right? Look out for more chunks in our videos —and whenever you hear Spanish— and learn them by heart. If you’d like to memorize the examples from this article with flashcards, check out our Spring Spanish Inner Circle: all our Inner Circle students get flashcards and transcripts for each lesson we post on YouTube! Yes, also this one!

Oh! Here’s one last bonus tip: 

As a rule, never use bien with the verb ser (to be), use bueno/buena (or the plural version) instead:

  • Ella es buena means “She is a good person” 
  • Ella está buena means “She is hot” —as in good-looking, but that’s not something you want to say when tus suegros (your in-laws) are around! 

Quiz Time! 

¡Muy bien! Ready for the quiz? Vamos a ver si te he enseñado bien (Let’s see if I taught you well):

  1. Mi profesora de español es muy ________ (buena) 
    (My Spanish teacher is very good)
  1. Ayer me fue _______ (bien) en el examen 
    (Yesterday, I did well at the test) 

CHUNK ALERT!

“Me fue bien” is an expression Spanish native speakers use to say they are having a good day, but it doesn’t have an exact translation. Again, a perfect example of a chunk to learn by heart! 

  1. Ángel es un _____ (buen) nutriólogo 
    (Ángel is a good nutritionist) 
  1. Te tengo una ______ (buena) noticia
    (I have good news for you)
  1. Hoy amanecí de ______ (buen) humor
    (Today, I woke up in a good mood) 

How many did you answer bien (well)? How many no fueron buenas respuestas (weren’t good answers)? Let me know in the comments! 

Alright, so what’s next? 

You might’ve seen the chunk “muy bien” come back several times in this article. Many language learners get it confused with “mucho bien”, though… 

Do YOU know when to use muy and when to use mucho? If not, Spring Spanish teacher Mariana has prepared a piece for you explaining when to use which, with lots of examples and, of course, with our chunking trick to remember the right one every single time.

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