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Upper Intermediate Spanish Lesson 29: The differences between Bien and Bueno, Mal and Malo

This lesson is part of the Upper-Intermediate Spanish Course
(74 Spanish video or mp3 lessons. 4 hrs 3 mins)

Upper-Intermediate Spanish MP3Upper-Intermediate Spanish Video Course

In this free Spanish lesson we will look at the difference between the Spanish words Bien and Bueno and Mal and Malo and how their meanings can change depending on whether they are used with Ser or Estar. Ser bueno, for example, means To be a good person or a good quality item, wheras Estar bueno means to be attractive or tasty. In the previous four Spanish video lessons we looked at other Spanish words with varied definitions depending on whether they are paired with Ser or Estar and this video lesson continues the theme with specific reference to Bien, Bueno, Mal and Malo. These are four Spanish words that get used a lot in everyday conversation and it is for this reason that it is so important to be clear and confident in their different meanings and uses. Once again we see how crucial and tricky the Spanish verbs Ser and Estar are. I recommend making up your own practice sentences using as many combinations of Ser and Estar as you have learned and to look out for Ser and Estar in Spanish texts. I hope you are reading regularly in Spanish now and finding stories and articles that are of genuine interest to you. There is so much free material out there on the internet, but make sure you find things that you really want to read. The best way to study is to study without even feeling like you are studying!

Lesson notes:

Ser bueno: To be a good person / To be a good quality item

Ser malo: To be a bad person / To be a bad quality item

Estar bueno: To be tasty (for food) / To be attractive (for people)

Estar malo: To be ill (for people) / To be bad tasting (for food)

Estar bien: To be healthy or in good physical or mental condition (for people) / To be correct

Estar mal: To be in bad physical or mental condition (for people) / To be incorrect


Make up your own sentences using the Spanish verbs Ser and Estar with Bueno, Malo, Bien and Mal…

Here are the answers to the last activity:

El pescado está muy rico
¡He ganado la lotería, soy rico!
Déjame tranquilo, eres muy pesado
No puedo mover la mesa, es muy pesada
Pedro es un niño muy despierto
¿Pedro, estas despierto?


  1. Hola,
    Thank you very much for your comments and valued support of my website.
    The Spanish I speak and teach is Castellano Spanish as spoken in Spain which is almost identical to Latin American Spanish as spoken in South America, North America, Central America and the Caribbean. Latin American Spanish originally developed from Castellano and, though there are minor differences in pronunciation and vocabulary, both are basically the same language. The differences are similar to those between American and British English. It is certainly not difficult to understand one language once you know the other and Castellano Spanish will be easily understood by Spanish speakers in Spain and Latin America.
    It is impossible to say how long it will take someone to learn Spanish well as everyone is so different. However, if you are already experienced in the process of learning a foreign language and can set aside 2-3 hours per day you will progress very quickly and very well for sure.
    Enjoy your studies!

  2. Hey Thespanishblog,
    I’ll have to travel for work between Spain and Argentina (Buenos Aires) and i want to learn Spanish for easy communication and efficiency of work. the question is, are there big differences in accents between these 2 countries or would i understand conversations easily in these 2 countries if i just learn spanish?
    Also i want to ask how long would it probably take to learn Spanish and be a good speaker if i take lessons and practice about 2-3 hours every day (knowing that i’m good at French & i heard that french and spanish are pretty close)
    thank you
    Nice One!


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