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  • Writer's pictureKaren Spanish Tutor

Bien, Bueno, Buen: The Difference Between These Words and How to Use Them

Updated: Aug 25, 2020

The words bien, bueno and buen are some of the most regularly used Spanish words. They tend to cause a lot of confusion for new learners of the language. Using estoy bueno/a instead of estoy bien can mean the difference between saying I am hot (as in good looking) or I am well.

Here is a simple guide to help you cut through the confusion. Read on to set apart these three common words and use them in a variety of different situations.

Bien vs Bueno

The difference between bien and bueno is like the difference between well and good in English. Bien is an adverb and bueno is an adjective. This means that bien is used with verbs to describe an action, whereas bueno is used to describe nouns such as objects or people. Here are some examples:

Estoy bien: I am well

Juegas bien el fútbol: You play football well.

Mi ordenador no funciona bien: My computer doesn’t work well.

Las verduras son buenas para tu salud: Vegetables are good for your health.

El pastel está muy bueno: The cake is very good.

Este libro es bueno: This book is good.

As you see in the examples above, bueno changes depending on the noun that it is describing. As with all Spanish adjectives, it changes depending on whether the object being described is masculine, feminine or plural. Bien, on the other hand, always remains the same.

Alternative Uses of Bien

Although often translated into English as the word well, bien can also be translated as very or really in some cases:

Conduce bien rápido: He drives very fast.

La cerveza está bien fría: The beer is really cold.

Bien is also used in everyday speech to mean OK, all right or fine.

Vente al cine ¿vale? – Bien, nos vemos: Come to the cinema, ok? - All right, see you.

¿Nos vemos a las siete en el restaurante? – Bien: See you at seven at the restaurant? – OK

Alternative Uses of Bueno

The main translation of bueno is good. However, you’ll hear it used in other circumstances too. It is used in Latin America, particularly Mexico, as a greeting when answering the phone. It is also often used as a filler in conversation. Take a look at the examples below:

Bueno, tengo que pensar un poco más.: Well, I have to think a little more.

¿Puedes limpiar la cocina? - Bueno: Can you clean the kitchen? – OK.

When to Use Buen

Just when you thought you have got everything covered, you come across the word buen. How does this fit into the picture and how is it different from bueno?

The good news is buen and bueno are essentially the same word. The only difference in their position in a sentence. Buen will come before the noun and bueno will come afterwards:

Un buen libro: A good book.

Un libro bueno: A good book.

Buen is only used with masculine nouns. You’ll often find it use in phrases such as:

¡Buen trabajo!: Good work!

Un buen momento: A good moment.

Buen tiempo: Good weather

Next Steps

Now you have the information you need to use the words bien, bueno and buen. Hopefully this has cleared up any confusion and you can start to practice using these words until it becomes second nature! Leave a comment and let me know if this article has helped you and what more you would like to learn!

For more tips and techniques in improving your vocabulary in Spanish click here.

Click here for some handy phrases that will make you sound more like a native speaker.

For techniques to reach your goal of fluency click here.

Hi, I am Karen. I am a languages tutor and blogger. I offer online tuition for students across the UK. I live in Tonbridge, in Kent, with my husband and my son. For me learning Spanish has meant fun, adventure, friendship and fulfilling work. I love sharing all that I have learnt with my students and via my blog. If you would like to receive 10% off your first online lesson, as well as regular updates and tips for learning Spanish, subscribe here.

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