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Buono vs. Bene

When learning Italian students sometimes struggle to understand the difference between the words “buono” and “bene” because they can overlap in English.

But these words actually belong to two different grammar categories and, as a consequence, we can’t use them interchangebly when we want to translate “good”.

Buono is an adjective, which means it gives us information about the content of a person or object, about its qualities:

1) Il cibo è buono = the food is good.

The comparative is “migliore” or “più buono”, and the superlative is “ottimo” or “buonissimo”:

1a) Qui il cibo è migliore = the food here is better;

1b) Qui il cibo è ottimo = the food here is great.

Noun + verb to be + buono

Bene is an adverb, which means it goes with a verb, it gives information about the way one does something.

2) Lucia cucina bene = Lucia cooks well / she is a good cooker

The comparative is “meglio”, and the superlative is “benissimo”:

2a) Lucia cucina meglio di Giovanni = Lucia cooks better than Giovanni;

2b) Lucia cucina benissimo = Lucia cooks very well / she is a very good cooker.

Person + its action + bene.

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