¿Bien o Bueno?

I am often asked this question by learners, so read on for my explanation to make it simple:

Bien

Bien is an “adverb”, which means it will not be close to a noun. It often translate as “well, ok, alright, correctly, appropriately, nicely, pleasantly”. It is normally placed close to the verb.

* It answers the question, “How …?” (¿Cómo …?)

¿Cómo estás?:  How are you?
Estoy bien, gracias.:  I’m good, thanks.
Está bien.:  It’s ok.

* It often describes the “way in which something is done”: (well/correctly)

Mi amiga cocina muy bien.:  My friend cooks really well.
Has contestado bien.:  You have answered correctly.
¡Bien hecho!:  Well done!
¡Bien dicho!:  Well said!
Bien cocido.:  Well cooked.

* Bien can be placed next to an adjective to emphasise the adjective:

¡Es una película bien emocionante!:  It’s a really exciting film!
Es un estudiante bien inteligente.:  He’s a very intelligent student.
Tu peinado es bien moderno.:  Your hairstyle is really modern.

* Bien can also offer different options, translating into English as “either … or …”:

Bien puedes venir mañana, bien puedes venir el sábado.:
You can either come tomorrow, or you can come on Saturday.

Bueno

Bueno is an “adjective”, (a describing word), so it must agree with the noun that it is describing. i.e. whether the noun is masculine/feminine, singular/plural. It translates as, “good”, “well”, “fine”.

una película buena:  a good film
unas películas buenas:  some good films
un niño bueno:  a good boy
unos niños buenos:  some good boys

Note: With masculine singular nouns, you can also place “bueno” before the noun, but it then shortens to “buen”.

So you can either say:  un libro bueno:  a good book
or:  un buen libro:  a good book

* Bueno, can also be a “filler” word, translating as “Well, ….” Like the word “pues”.
Bueno, … vamos a ver …:  Well, … let’s see …

Hopefully this has made the confusion over whether to use “bien” or “bueno” a bit clearer!

If you would like to clear up this or any other confusing grammar query you may have, and put them into practice using real-life situations, feel free to book a one-off lesson or a few lessons. Call Fiona on 07870699404 to check availability.

 
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