Using 'Bien'

Translations Include 'Well' and 'Good'

baby sleeping
Mi bebe duerme bien. (My baby sleeps well.). Photo by Toshiyuki IMAI; licensed via Creative Commons.

Bien is most often used as an adverb meaning "well" (i.e., "in a good manner") although in a more flexible way than the English word. Bien also can be a noun whose meanings include "goodness" and "asset."

Here are some examples of where "well" is a good translation for bien:

  • Raquel cree que canta bien. Raquel thinks she sings well.
  • Un alimento bien cocinado puede contaminarse si tiene contacto con carnes crudas. A well-cooked food can get tainted if it has contact with undercooked meats.
  • Aprende bien las reglas de manejar. Learn well the rules of driving.
  • Mi bebe duerme bien. My baby sleeps well.
  • No entiendo bien tu pregunta. I don't understand your question well.

Bien often carries the idea of something occuring correctly, sufficiently or to a great degree:

  • No puede reparar bien mi coche. He can't fix my car correctly.
  • Llovió bien hasta enero y después se cortó. It rained a lot until January and then it stopped.
  • La computadora no me funciona bien. The computer doesn't work right for me.
  • Se sentirá en casa con la comida deliciosa y las bebidas bien frías. You will feel at home with the delicious food and well-chilled drinks.
  • No estoy seguro de haber descargado bien el software. I'm not sure the software was downloaded properly.
  • La película está bien divertida y no tiene mensajes de doble sentido. The film is quite fun and doesn't have mixed messages.

Often with estar (and sometimes other verbs), bien is sometimes translated as a positive adjective that varies with context:

  • Estuvo muy bien el desayuno. The breakfast tasted great.
  • Estoy bien hoy. I'm feeling good today.
  • Estás bien en tu foto de Facebook. You look good in your Facebook photo.
  • Todos estamos bien. We're all fine.
  • Todo está bien. Everything's OK.
  • Te está bien la camisa. The shirt looks good on you.

As an interjection, bien can have a similarly positive meaning. For example, fans at a sports context might shout "¡Bien!" as a way of saying "Good job!"

As a noun, el bien can mean "goodness" or something similar:

  • El mundo está plagado de gente que no hace el bien. The world is plagued by people who don't do the right thing.
  • La ética, por definición, busca el bien. Ethics, by definition, looks for the good.

In financial matters, el bien can refer to various types of assets or goods. For example, un bien tangible is a tangible asset, and bienes raíces refers to real estate.

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Your Citation
Erichsen, Gerald. "Using 'Bien'." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Erichsen, Gerald. (2023, April 5). Using 'Bien'. Retrieved from Erichsen, Gerald. "Using 'Bien'." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 2, 2023).