‘Buenos’ vs ‘buenas’

In short – the adjectives ‘buenos’ and ‘buenas’ both translate to ‘good’ in English. ‘Buenos’ describes masculine plural nouns and ‘buenas’ is used with feminine plural nouns.

Whilst in English we use the word ‘good’ irrespective of whether the noun in question is singular or plural, adjectives in Spanish have to agree with the noun in both gender (i.e., masculine or feminine) AND number!

Let’s get into the nitty-gritty!


KEY TAKEWAYS


Buenos’ and ‘buenas’ can be used in the following ways –

As adjectives that agree in both gender AND number with the noun they describe –

Gustavo siempre hace buenos pasteles. = Gustavo always bakes good cakes.

Tienen buenas costumbres. = They have good habits.


Buenos’ is generally used to describe groups of living things with mixed genders –

Adela y Víctor son buenos amigos. = Adela and Víctor are good friends.


‘Buenas’ is also a common greeting –

¡Buenas, querido! = Morning, dear!




Buenos‘ vs ‘buenas

‘Buenos’ and ‘buenas’ are both Spanish adjectives.

In Spanish, adjectives agree in gender and number with the noun they modify.

And, yeah, you guessed it … both ‘buenos’ and ‘buenas’ are used with plural nouns (that “s” at the end is a bit of a giveaway, right?).

The difference between them is that ‘buenos’ is used exclusively with masculine nouns and ‘buenas’ with feminine nouns.

So, in order to use them properly you’re gonna have to first find out the gender of the noun you´re looking to modify.

Here are some examples –

Te voy a recomendar unos tacos muy buenos.

I’m gonna recommend some really good tacos.

‘tacos’ is a masculine plural noun



¡Mi hermana siempre tiene buenas ideas!

My sister always has good ideas!

‘ideas’ is a feminine plural noun


Common mistake 1

All gravy so far?

Just watch out for the everyday phrases in which we’d use a singular noun in English but a plural noun in Spanish …

Tengo ganas de unas buenas vacaciones en la playa.

I’m looking forward to a nice beach vacation.



¡Buenos días, cariño!

Good morning, sweetheart!



Se echó unas buenas carcajadas en el cine.

She had a good laugh at the movies.

*Erika’s top tip – this doesn’t mean that these nouns don’t have singular forms (i.e., ‘vacación’, ‘día’, ‘carcajada’), it’s just that most of the time Spanish speakers use their plural forms instead.


Common mistake 2

The other common ground for error is gender.

You’ve probably learnt that nouns ending with “o” are masculine and nouns ending with “a” are feminine and, well, that’s generally a pretty sound rule!

But why (on earth!) do people say ‘buenos días’?

Well, don’t let that ‘a’ at the end of ‘días’ trick you … ‘días’ is actually a masculine noun!

Yep, there are quite a few examples of masculine nouns that end with an “a” and feminine nouns that end with “o”.

Here are some of them –

Masculine

  • el día – buenos días = good morning

  • el aroma – buenos aromas = good scents

  • el tema – buenos temas = good themes

Feminine

  • la foto – buenas fotos = good photos

  • la mano – buenas manos = good hands

  • la moto – buenas motos = good motorcycles


Rules are useful but I strongly recommend that you look up (and possibly note down!) the gender of a noun when learning it. That way you won’t be slipped up by the many exceptions!

Llovió todas las tardes. – ¡Buenas tardes, Felipe!

It rained every afternoon. – Good afternoon, Felipe!



Los días pasaron lentamente. – Buenos días, mi amor.

The days went by slowly. – Good morning, my love.



Pude observar la Luna desde mi ventana todas las noches. – Hasta luego*, buenas noches.

I could see the moon from my window every night. – See you later, have a good night.

*Erika’s note – ‘hasta luego’ is one of many friendly ways to say see you later’ in Spanish!


Common mistake 3

When referring to a group of living things with mixed genders, their nouns and adjectives are always masculine (think of it as the “default” form).

There’s an ongoing debate about whether or not to change this in order to make the language more inclusive, but at the moment the masculine form is preferred.

¡Bienvenidos, alumnos!

Welcome, students!


‘Buenas’ as a greeting

Finally, you’ll often hear people greeting each other with a simple ‘buenas’.

Just note that you can NEVER use ‘buenos’ as a greeting, even if it’s the morning (i.e., ‘buenos días’).

¡Buenos días, Don Genaro!

¡Buenas, Sra. Gómez!



Good morning, Don Genaro!

Morning, Ms. Gómez!


Expressions with ‘buenos’ / ‘buenas

De buenas

Being ‘de buenas’ means being ‘in a good mood’.

¡Alguien despertó de buenas hoy!

Somebody woke up in a good mood today!

Por las buenas

Doing something ‘por las buenas’ means doing it ‘voluntarily’ or ‘the easy way’. Use ‘por las malas’ when it’s ‘against (somebody’s) will’ or ‘the hard way’

Una madre a su hijo

A ver, ¿te vas a comer la sopa por las buenas, o por las malas?



A mother to her child

Are you going to eat the soup the easy way or the hard way?


Final thoughts

Keep in mind that gender is one of the most complex aspects of the Spanish language, especially for English-speakers!

When in doubt, always remember or look up the gender of the noun you wanna describe, then choose the adjective accordingly.

Oh, and if you wanna level up your Spanish grammar skills even further, make sure to check out our article on su’ vs ‘sus next!

¡Hasta pronto!

Rupert's lived in Mexico for nearly a decade and has been working as a Spanish teacher for even longer (over 10 years now, wow!). He specializes in simple (yet effective) explanations and is a veritable grammar-whizz.

And some cheeky vids ...

What ya looking for?