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Bien: Well, OK

Bueno... está bien, Tere.

All right... Tere, OK.

Caption 30, Verano Eterno - Fiesta Grande

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Bien, usually meaning "well" or "OK," has a plethora of uses that can change slightly in meaning depending on the context. Here, Tere's mother tells her that "it's OK" for her to take piano lessons with Juan. "OK" is a fairly typical translation for bien.

 

Es ahora bien buena madre con los hijos adoptivos

Now she is such a good mother with the adopted children

Captions 42-43, José Luís Acacio - Simón Bolívar

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The word bien, when placed before an adjective, tends to emphasize the meaning of that adjective. Here, that emphasis is perhaps best translated as "very" or "such a" to give us "Now, she's a very good mother" (or "such a good mother").

Note that when it's not used to describe your mother, bien buena, on it's own, most often means "really hot" or "really fine," (in the colloquial sense) and is used referring to some sexy thing.


¡Mamacita, estas bien buena!
Girl, you are damn fine!

 

Entonces que nosotros, pues, tenemos una... tenemos un dialecto que es bien bonito.

So it's that we, well, have a... we have a dialect that is quite beautiful.

Captions 47-48, Rafael T. - La Cultura Maya

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Sometimes that emphasis that the word bien gives to the adjective it precedes seems to be best translated as "quite," which in this case gives us: "We have a dialect that is quite beautiful."

Bien is used for emphasis in a variety of sayings that are common among younger speakers often prone to exaggeration:

Cantas bien mal.
You sing really badly.

 

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Keep your eyes open for many more interesting uses of bien!

Yo no me acuerdo pero bien pudo ser.
I don't remember but it well could have been (or, easily may have been).

 

Vocabulary

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