Use correctly bon and bien

Exactly like in English, the words ‘good’ and ‘well’ are very useful. Indeed, they can be applied to many different contexts in daily conversations. However, depending on what you want to say, you need to use a different term. As a result, using correctly ‘bon’ and ‘bien’ in French will take your French to another level.

Let’s see more in details how to add diversity and specificity to your conversations.

bon or bien in french

Summary :

  1. When do we use ‘bon’ in French ?
  2. When do we use ‘bien’ ?
  3. ‘C’est bon’ or ‘c’est bien’ ?

When do we use 'bon' in French ?

Firstly, ‘bon’ is an adjective. Therefore, its spelling changes to maintain agreement with the noun it is modifying. For example :

  • un bon gâteau = a good cake
  • une bonne tarte = a good pie
  • des bons repas = good meals
  • des bonnes glaces = good ice-creams

Remember : ‘bon’ always comes before the noun.

‘Bon’ generally means ‘good’ and describes a positive taste or quality as follows :

Bon appétit ! Enjoy your meal !
Tu as passé une bonne journée ? You had a good day ?
Je vous souhaite un bon anniversaire I wish you a happy birthday
Ils ont passé de bonnes vacances They had a good holiday
Ce billet de train n’est pas bon This train ticket is not valid
Les plats du jour sont vraiment bons The dishes of the day are really good
C’est un bon médecin He’s a good doctor
bon in french

When do we use bien ?

In contrast with ‘bon’, ‘bien’ is an adverb and is invariable. We generally translate it as ‘well’, ‘correctly’ and ‘right’.

Elle cuisine bien She cooks well
Tu vas bien aujourd’hui ? Are you all right today ?
La télé ne marche pas bien The TV doesn’t work correctly
Il parle bien français He speaks French well
Ça serait bien ! It would be nice !

And for a great video explanation about ‘bon’ and ‘bien’, feel free to check this Youtube tutorial.

bien in french

C'est bien or c'est bon ?

Finally, we will show you that ‘bon’ and ‘bien’ have different nuances when used in expressions c’est + (it is). Let’s see below with a few examples :

C’est bon

C’est bien

Physical sensation J’adore le caramel, c’est trop bon. (I love toffee, it’s so good). An opinion Ils sont allés voter, c’est bien. (They went to vote, it’s good).
Green light La porte est fermée, c’est bon. (The door is closed, it’s Ok). A moral judgement C’est bien d’être généreux. (It’s good to be generous).

In conclusion, even if you’re starting from scratch, remember that absorbing and practicing the basics like good in French is just as important as any other step.

With time, you’ll perfect your command of the words bien and bon in various contexts.

Would you like to accelerate your progress with a tailored French course? Feel free to get in touch.

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