9 Vote

I found this from a language forum. So far it is the best answer to the puzzling question of why "buenos días", "buenas tardes", and "buenas noches" are plural.

"The origin of the plural forms as a way of greeting has to be searched in the past. In former times, from the 10th century on, Spanish language began being developed from Latin where formality was a rule when addressing somebody. The plural form of old Spanish vos (plural you) when talking to more than one person seemed to demand a plural in the rest of the sentence parts: “Buenos días guarden a vos”, and the same with tardes and noches. Besides, the fact that in that age people did not run into each other everyday, due to the meagre communication means, wherever they met they said hello for the rest of the week with a plural form rather than a singular."

What do you guys think of this?

  • I think I like "meagre" as well as "meager"... jeje - cristalino Sep 20, 2011 flag

11 Answers

5 Vote

I simply recall a gentleman I used to work with at a rather menial job years ago, called Sr. Niño (oxymoron, right?) who was very well-educated and very old-school as well... and he explained to me one day that "Buenos días" was actually inappropriate in his estmation, since the greeting should only encompass one day, not a series or group of days... it would be like saying in English, "Good mornings!" simply because we wanted to include the rest of the week! How many of us actually do that, honestly?!

Buen día y buenos días tienen el mismo valor, en mi opinión humilde.... red face

  • Excellent point, as usual, Cristalino!! - territurtle Sep 20, 2011 flag
  • Wisdom long forgotten Chris ! - pacofinkler Sep 20, 2011 flag
  • In Spanish it should be "en mi humilde opinion"...nice story by the way - geouk Sep 21, 2011 flag
3 Vote

Spanish grammar isn't the same as English, so that may be one of those differences in Spanish/English translations, like instead of "fiery volcano" it's "volcano of fire" or some other difference like that.

3 Vote

Am I "mis-remembering" (that's Roger Clemens, yes) when I recall that it's not all that uncommon, at least in Mexico, to hear "Buen día" in casual use? Not with people just not saying the s, which happens, but the singular of the greeting.

  • Or our fearless leader G. Bush with: ''They misunderestimated me.'' - Bentonville, Ark., Nov. 6, 2000 - cristalino Sep 20, 2011 flag
  • I heard buen dia all the time in Guatemala - Valerie Sep 20, 2011 flag
  • Me, too, Valerie - --Mariana-- Sep 21, 2011 flag
3 Vote

When I hear Buen Día, I mentally fill in the missing "¡Qué tenga un buen día!"

2 Vote


2 Vote

I think it is rather a question of use and custom. Here in Mexico we used to say until recently: "Buenos días". But from some years to now many people is beginning to say: "Buen día", and I really don't know why. Maybe it is because they think they are greeting for just one day, not for the week or days to come. And probably they think too that "Buenos días" is old fashioned and hick.

But as I am myself rather conservative in this questions, I will continue saying "Buenos días", which sounds to me much more castizo and endearing.

By the way, the DRAE has this explanation:


buen ~.

  1. expr. Arg. y Chile. buenos días.

buenos ~s.

  1. expr. U. como salutación familiar durante la mañana.

Besides, I think the phrase comes from: "Buenos días le dé Dios", which is better than saying: "Buen día le dé Dios".

alt text

  • For thirty years this expression has troubled me(which probably says more about me than the usage) thanks to all for the discussion. - mikecarroll Sep 21, 2011 flag
2 Vote

I don't think there's a real difference between 'buenos dias' or 'buen dia' in their meaning as people use them indistinctively.

Except on formal occasions (business meetings and so on) when 'buenos dias' is commonly used. Some may not agree but I wouldn't greet my interviewer at a job interview with a 'buen dia', I'd go with 'buenos dias'.

It's also worth noting that both 'buenos dias' and 'buen dia' are used as morning greetings...but 'buen dia' can also refer to a whole day: "Que tengas un buen dia" (Have a good day).

1 Vote

The Portuguese say" Bom dia " for buenos días , so they obviously found it OK .

How about in north western Spain near the border ?

And the Italians say , "Buon giorno " entonces ¿ que epaña que ?

1 Vote

My host mom in México sometimes said buenas dias and sometimes buen dia. I asked her why and what was the difference. She said that there was no difference and she had no reason for choosing one over the other at a given time.

0 Vote

Ha! I never thought and to think about why it was plural! Thanks for the interesting post!

0 Vote

I believe these "singular" forms of Buenos Dias may be related to the English phrase (which is sometimes very annoying) "Have a good one!" i.e., "Have a good day!" The meaning is that the remainder of the day should be pleasant/lucky/good for you. So long as the intention of the speaker is clear, I need to accept these (new) forms. I do wish, however, that people could be a bit more imaginative and/or inventive; if they do not want to wish you many pleasant days but only one, perhaps they could devise a way to say "Keep well until midnight!" alt text

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