The Evil Twins:

Bien vs Bueno, Muy vs Mucho


By Adam Skelton

Bien vs Bueno and Muy vs Mucho are notorious stumbling blocks for Spanish students. They pop up regularly in everyday conversation and are the root of some of the most common mistakes. But it doesn’t have to be this way… we are about to smash any doubts and topple the reign of the Evil Twins forever!

The first thing we need to be clear on is: adjectives and adverbs. Adjectives describe nouns and adverbs describe verbs. Bien vs Bueno and Muy vs Mucho are a mixture of adjectives and adverbs and identifying this and following the rules relating to adjectives and adverbs goes a long way to eliminating those pesky errors.



Bien translates to Well or Very in English. It is an adverb. Adverbs should be used to describe verbs, adjectives, other adverbs, but never to describe nouns. It translates to Well when it describes verbs and Very when it describes adjectives.

Bien describing verbs:

Mi teléfono móvil no funciona bien: My mobile phone doesn’t work well.

¡Qué bien hablas español, John!: How well you speak Spanish John!

El juega al tenis bien: He plays tennis well.

MI hijo leía bien cuando tenía cinco años: My son read well when he was six

Bien is used here because it is describing the verbs Funcionar (to function), Hablar (to speak), Jugar (To play) and Leer (to read). However, a common error is to use Bueno and say things like: ¡Qué bueno hablas español, John!, or El juega al tenis bueno, etc.

Bien with the verb Estar:

¿Cómo estás? Estoy bien: How are you? I am well.

Again we use Bien here because it is describing the verb To be (Estar). This example is a classic banana skin for Spanish students from English-speaking countries who will be accustomed to saying I am good in their own language rather than I am well.

We will look more at Ser and Estar a bit later as they relate to Bien vs Bueno and Muy vs Mucho…

Bien vs Bueno, Muy vs Mucho

Bien describing adjectives:

Esta comida está bien rica: This food is very tasty.

Mi familia es bien grande: My family is very big.

Mi padre era bien estricto cuando era joven: My father was very strict when he was young.

Debes estar bien atento: You must be very attentive.

In all these cases we could use Muy instead of Bien to mean the same thing.

Bien on its own

Bien is also used on its own when you want to say Okay/Of course/All right or to make a celebratory Yippee!/Hurray!/Whoopee!

For example:

¿Vamos al bar? – ¡Bien!: Shall we go to the bar?: Okay/Of course/All right.

Déjame ayudarte con esto – Bien: Let me help you with that: Okay/Of course/All right.

El examen ha terminado – ¡Bien!: The exam has finished: Yippee!/Hurray!/Whoopee!

¡Has ganado el gran premio! – ¡Bien! You’ve won the grand prize!: Yippee!/Hurray!/Whoopee!



Bueno translates to Good in English. It is an adjective and is therefore used to describe nouns (things, people, animals).

Like other Spanish adjectives, Bueno alters according to the gender and number of nouns it is describing (e.g. Amigo bueno, Persona buena,Buenos amigos, Buenas personas…). Bueno/a/os/as can be placed before or after the noun they describe but most of the time they go after the noun.

It is important to note that Buen rather than Bueno is used before any singular masculine noun.

Bueno describing nouns:

El hombre es bueno: The man is good.

Un buen hombre: A good man.

Hace un buen día: It is a nice day

Hace un día bueno: The day is nice

Bueno or Buen is used here because they are describing the nouns Hombre (man) and Día (day). However, a common error is to use Bien and say things like: El hombre es bien or Un bien hombre, etc.

These are frustrating errors with Bien vs Bueno that Spanish students make regularly because of a lack of attention to adjectives and adverbs.

It’s a similar story with Muy vs Mucho…



Muy translates to Very in English. Like Bien, it is an adverb and describes adjectives and other adverbs but never describes nouns.

Bien vs Bueno, Muy vs Mucho

Muy describing adjectives:

Este libro es muy aburrido: This book is very boring.

Ella es muy inteligente: She is very intelligent.

Eres muy simpático: You are very friendly.

Mis compañeros de trabajo son muy amables: My colleagues at work are very nice.

Muy describing other adverbs:

Mi hermano corre muy rápido: My brother runs very fast.

Ayer me levanté muy temprano: Yesterday I got up very early.

Ellos cocinan muy mal: They cook very badly.

Francisco habla muy despacio y muy claro: Francisco speaks very slowly and clearly.

Muy is never used by itself. It is always accompanied by an adjective or an adverb. And there is only one form of Muy – there is no singular/plural, masculine/feminine. Muy is always just Muy. Great eh, nice and simple!



Mucho is a bit more complex. It translates to A lot/A lot of/Much/Many/Very/A large amount of in English and can be an adjective, adverb, or pronoun.

Mucho as an adjective describing nouns:

As an adjective, Mucho alters according to the gender and number of nouns it is describing (e.g. Mucho dinero, Mucha comida,Muchos amigos, Muchas personas…)

Ella tiene muchos amigos: She has a lot of friends.

Hay muchas personas en el mundo que hablan español: There are many people in the world who speak Spanish.

Ustedes tienen mucha paciencia: You guys have a lot of patience.

Hace mucho frío aquí: It is very cold here.

Mucho as an adverb describing verbs:

When Mucho is used as an adverb it is placed after the verb it describes and, unlike the adjective version, the adverb version of Mucho is always the same (no change of gender or number).

Nieva mucho en Noruega: It snows a lot in Norway.

Te amo mucho: I love you a lot.

Mi padre tiene mucho que hacer en el jardín: My father has a lot to do in the garden.

Estoy cansado porque he andado mucho. I am tired because I have walked a lot.

Mucho as a pronoun functioning by itself as a noun phrase:

Mucho can also take the role of a pronoun in the sentence. Pronouns are words such as Yo (I), (you), Mi (me), Ti (you), Mío (mine), Tuyo (yours), Algo (something), Nada (nothing), Alguien (someone), and Nadie (nobody) which take the place of nouns. Mucho/a/os/as becomes a pronoun when it replaces the noun it refers to. For example:

Bien vs Bueno, Muy vs Mucho

Los tomates estaban carísimos. Además muchos estaban verdes: The tomatoes were very expensive. More over many were unripe (Here Muchos refers to Muchos tomates)

Hay muchos que creen que el dinero es la cosa mas importante del mundo: There are many who believe that money is the most important thing in the world. (Here Mucho refers to Muchas personas).

Digamos a los niños que se acuesten. Muchos están cansados: Let’s say to the children to go to bed. Many are tired. (Here Muchos refers to Muchos niños).

El dinero no es lo más importante. Yo no tengo mucho: Money is not the most important thing. I don’t have much (Here Mucho refers to Mucho dinero).


It is also worth mentioning that the adjective and pronoun Mucho can also be turned into Muchísimo/Muchísimos/Muchísima/Muchísimas if you wish to say Very much/Very many/So many/So much/Very very/Lots and lots of/etc. Be careful not to use Muy with Mucho. Translating Very much to Muy mucho and So much to Tan mucho are other common mistakes to watch out for.

For example:

¿Hay mucha gente allí? Si, muchísima: Are there many people there? Yes, very many.

¡Hace muchísimo frío hoy!: It is very very cold today.

¡Me gusta la tarta de queso muchísimo!: I love the cheesecake very very much!

Mis padres se aman muchisimo: My parents love one another so much.

So far, so good.

There are some other important points we need to be aware related to Bien vs Bueno and Muy vs Mucho…


Ser & Estar

Mistakes are common when using Bien and Bueno with the Spanish verbs To Be: Ser and Estar. Ser and Estar are infamously convoluted and choosing which to use with Bien and Bueno in different contexts can be challenging.

Here are the rules you need to follow with Bien vs Bueno:

We never use Bien with Ser

So you should never say something like: Él es bien or Esta fiesta es bien. In these examples you should use Bueno and say: Él es bueno (he is good) or Esta fiesta es buena (this party is good). A common mistake is to translate It’s okay/fine/allright as Es bien when it should always be Está bien.

Some examples:

El equipo de este año es bueno: This year’s team is good.

¿Te cae bien tu jefe? Sí, es un buen hombre: Do you like your boss? Yes, he is a good man.

¿Cómo es tu teléfono nuevo? Es bueno, gracias: How is your new phone? It is good, thanks.

Estar bien

When Estar is used with Bien the phrase means To be healthy or in good physical or mental condition (for people)/To be correct (for things). The negative of this is Estar mal which means To be in bad physical or mental condition (for people)/To be Incorrect (for things).

Some examples:

¿Qué tal? Estoy bien: How are you? Fine.

Tienes que repetir este ejercicio. Lo que has hecho hasta ahora está mal: You need to repeat this exercise. What you have done so far is wrong.

Ayer vi a Pedro y estaba de muy buen humor: I saw Pedro yesterday and he was in a very good mood.

Ser bueno and Estar bueno

Using Ser or Estar with Bueno creates distinct meanings. Ser bueno means To be a good person/To be good at something/To be a good quality item and Estar bueno means To be tasty (for food)/To be attractive (for people). The negative of this is Ser malo which means To be a bad person/To be bad at something/To be a bad quality item and Estar malo which means To be bad tasting (for food)/To be ill (for people).

Some examples:

¿Te gusta la sopa? Sí, está buena: Do you like the soup? Yes. It’s good.

Tengo estos zapatos desde hace diez años. Son muy buenos: I have had these shoes for ten years. They are very good.

Me cae muy bien tu madre. Es una buena persona: I like your mother very much. She is a good person.


Common phrases and expressions

Here are some expressions and phrases that you will probably have come across to help illustrate the difference between Bien vs Bueno as well as Muy vs Mucho.


Ahora bien: However, having said that.

Así está bien: That way is fine.

Bastante bien: Quite well.

¡Bien hecho!: Well done!

Bien visto: Considered acceptable.

Caer bien: To make a good impression, to be liked by.

Dársele bien algo a alguien: To be good at.

Estar bien: To be Okay/fine, all right.

Estar bien empleado: To serve someone right.

Haz el bien sin mirar a quién: Do the right thing and don’t worry what people think.

Ir bien: To go well.

Ni bien ni mal: So so.

Portarse bien: To behave well.

¿Todo bien?: Is everything all right?

Ya está bien: Enough is enough.


Bastante bueno: Quite good.

Buena gente: Good people.

Bueno para la salud: Good for your health.

Bueno para nada: Good for nothing.

Bueno pues: OK then

Dar por bueno: To give the go ahead.

El visto bueno: The seal of approval.

La mar de bueno: Exceptionally good.

Lo bueno: The good thing.

Lo bueno es que: The good thing is that.

Pero bueno: Honestly/but anyway.

Por muy bueno que sea: As good as it might be.

Qué bueno: How good.

Sacar lo bueno: Find the positive.

Ser bueno en…: To be good at something.

Tan bueno: So good.

Todo lo bueno se acaba: All good things come to an end.


Estoy muy bien: I’m doing really well.

No muy bien: Not very well.

Muy a menudo: Very often.

Muy amable: Very kind.

Muy bien: Very well.

Muy importante: Very important.

Muy lejos: Very far.

Muy mal: Very badly.

Muy poco: Very little.

Muy pronto: Very soon.

Muy temprano: Very early.


Con mucho gusto: With pleasure.

Cuídate mucho: Take good care of yourself.

Hace mucho calor: it’s very hot.

Hace mucho tiempo: A long time ago.

Hay mucho: There’s a lot of.

Lo siento mucho: I’m really sorry.

Me gusta mucho: I like it very much.

Muchas gracias: Many thanks.

Mucho gusto: Nice to meet you.

No mucho: Not much.

Por mucho que: No matter how much

Te quiero mucho: I love you so much.

¿Todo bien? All good?

Hopefully you have a much clearer grasp on Bien vs Bueno and Muy vs Mucho now and the evil twins have been unmasked and sent packing!

Other sneaky little Spanish doppelgangers include Conocer vs Saber. Similar and confusing. But equally easily defeatable!

The nuts and bolts of the Bien vs Bueno and Muy vs Mucho issue is understanding adjectives and adverbs. It’s easy to get into a mess and make lots of silly repeated errors when you are confused about which words Bien, Bueno, Muy and Mucho can be used to describe.

Here is a final simplified summary to make sure you are completely clear:


Verb + Bien

Mi prima nada bien: My cousin swims well.

Ayer hablaste bien en la conferencia: Yesterday you talked well in the conference.

Bien + Adjective

La paella está bien rica: The paella is very tasty.

Tu bebé está bien grande: Your baby is very big.

Bien + Adverb

Has llegado bien tarde: You have arrived very late.

Ayer cociné bien rápido, tenía mucha prisa: Yesterday I cooked very fast, I was in a hurry.


No tenemos que trabajar mañana ¡Bien!: We don’t have to work tomorrow. Great!

¡Bien! ¡Me voy de vacaciones!: Great! I am going on vacations!


Bueno, Buenos, Buena, Buenas + Noun

Javier y Pablo son muy buenos amigos míos: Javier and Pablo are very good friends of mine.

Mis hijas son unas buenas chicas: My daughters are good girls.

Buen + (singular masculine) Noun

El Senor de los Anillos es un buen libro: The Lord of the Rings is a good book

Martín es un buen padre: Martin is a good dad.


Muy + Adjective

Tu coche es muy moderno: Your car is very modern.

¿Por qué piensan que esta película no es muy interesante?: Why do they think this movie is not very interesting?

Muy + Adverb

Corréis muy rápido: You run very fast.

Resolveré el problema muy fácilmente: I will solve the problema very easily.


Mucho, Muchos, Mucha, Muchas + Noun

Mi hija comió muchos caramelos en la fiesta de cumpleaños: My daughter ate many sweets at the birthday party.

La casa de Emilia tiene muchas habitaciones: Emilia’s house has many rooms.

Verb + Mucho

Ellos gastan mucho dinero: They spend a lot of money.

Rafael no hablaba mucho cuando era pequeño: Rafael did not talk much when he was a child.

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