Monthly Word / La palabra del mes

July / August 2004 ~ Spanish that Works Review

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Bueno / BWEH-noh (good, nice) La palabra del mes

Forms of “bueno”

Bueno is an adjective, so it is used to describe a noun. Spanish adjectives must agree with the gender and number of the noun they describe, so bueno can take various forms. 

Often you will use bueno and its related forms after es and son to talk about how things really are.

El libro es bueno. - The book is good.
La clase es buena. - The class is good.
Los teléfonos son buenos. - The telephones are good.
Las computadoras son buenas. - The computers are good.

You can also use bueno and its forms after está and están to talk about how things look, taste, or seem to you.

Los tacos están buenos. - The tacos taste good.
La niña está buena. - The girl is good looking.
El trabajo está bueno. - The job is seeming good to me.

More uses of “bueno”

Unlike English, Spanish descriptive adjectives usually follow the noun they describe. So, instead of a “big house,” you have a “house big” (casa grande).

Similarly, you can use bueno and its related forms after a noun. For example:

Tengo una clase buena. - I have one class good = I have one good class.
Es un niño bueno. - He’s a boy nice = He’s a nice boy.

However, bueno is a bit special, because forms of it can often be seen in front of the noun, especially when used in a greeting or social expression. For example:

Buenos días - Good morning, Good day
Buenas noches - Good night
Que pase un buen día - Have a nice day
¡Buen viaje! - Have a nice trip (Bon voyage)
Buena suerte – Good luck!
Buen trabajo – Good job
Buen provecho – Enjoy your meal (Bon appetit)

NOTE:  When bueno comes before a masculine singular noun such as día (day), viaje / bee-AH-hay (trip), or trabajo (job), you drop the final –O. 

Remember, don’t confuse buen (short form of the adjective bueno, which means good) with bien (adverb meaning “well”). Bueno can sometimes translate into English as “well,” but bien does NOT translate into English as “good.” English speakers often confuse “good” and “well” anyway, so this can be a challenge.

More expressions with “bueno” 

In Mexico, ¿Bueno? is said as a question to answer the phone. (Most Latin American countries use ¿Aló? to answer the phone.)

Bueno is often used as a filler or pause word:

Bueno, pues... est
á  bien. - Well, then...okay.

Sometimes Spanish speakers will use bueno to mean “all right,” or “okay,” when they are in agreement with something.

¿Quiere ir al cine? - Do You* want to go to the movies?
Bueno. - All right.

*Capital letter used on “You” to indicate the polite, professional form of address. 

Sometimes speakers will use buena idea / BWEH-nah ee-THEY-ah (or just buena) to show that they like an idea. 

¡Vamos a la playa! - Let’s go to the beach!
¡Buena! - Good idea!

You can also use bueno to exclaim that something is good:

¡Qué bueno! - How nice! Great!

Beyond bueno

The opposite of bueno (good) is malo / MAH-loh (bad). Related forms are mala, malos, malas, and the masculine short form mal. 

(NOTE: There is also an adverb mal, which means “badly” and a noun mal which means “evil” or “illness.”)

“Very good” is muy bueno

The word mejor / may-HOHRR means “better” or “best.” 

The word buenísimo / bweh-NEE-see-moh (and related forms) means “super good.”

Popular expressions

A couple of common expressions are:

1) hacer algo de buena gana / theh BWEH-nah GAH-nah 

Literal translation: to do something of good desire
English equivalent: to do something willingly

estar de buen humor / theh bwehn oo-MOHRR

Literal translation: to be of good humor
English equivalent: to be in a good mood

Remember it! 

The word bueno / BWEH-noh is related to a number of Latin-based English words which start with bon-.  

One such word is “bonus,” which is certainly nice and good! 

So remember: A bonus is bueno.

bueno = good, nice

©2004 Elizabeth Almann


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