Buena onda

Buena onda is an informal way to say that someone is good or decent by nature. Él es buena onda. He’s a good guy. It is frequently modified with bien: Ese chavo es bien buena onda. He’s a great boy. Naturally, mala onda has the opposite meaning. Es mala onda. He’s a jerk.

Here are some examples that refer more explicitly to behavior:

  • Ándale. No seas mala onda. Es nada más por hoy. Don’t turn me down (like a bad person would). It’s just for today. Here, no seas malito/a would work as well.
  • Pero no me peló y se portó mala onda conmigo. But he ignored me and treated me badly.
  • Él fue mala onda contigo. He treated you badly, unfairly.
  • No es por ser mala onda, pero …. I’m sorry to have to say this, but …

Qué mala onda

Buena/mala onda isn’t just for people. It can also be used for reacting to news or a situation.

  • ¡Qué mala onda! That’s terrible! (I’m commiserating here with the bad news you have just shared.)
  • Qué mala onda, ¿no? That sucks. Sorry to hear it.
  • Qué buena onda. Cool!
  • Qué buena onda con lo de la boda. That’s great news (about the wedding).
  • Qué mala onda que se murió tu perro. What a bummer that your dog died. What bad luck.
  • Pues qué mala onda que me ha echado la culpa. It sucks that she blames me. That’s unfair.

As you can see from the final examples, qué buena/mala onda can be extended to specify the situation you are reacting to.

Se me hace mala onda

Se me hace buena/mala onda is a way to give your take on a course of action.

  • Se me hace mala onda. It seems (to me) like a rude/thoughtless thing to do. A decent buena onda person would not behave that way.
  • Vine con ella y se me hace mala onda dejarla. We came together and it would be uncool to abandon her now.
  • A mí se me hace medio mala onda de tu parte que después de lo que pasó entre ustedes … That’s not very nice of you after everything the two of you have been through together.

En buena onda

A decent person, someone who is buena onda, does things en buena onda, with good intentions.

  • Es es buena onda. It’s for your own good. Not to hurt you.
  • Lo he hecho en buena onda. I did it with the best of intentions.
  • Creo que no lo hace en mala onda. He doesn’t do it to be a jerk.
  • Tú sabes que no lo hago en mala onda. You know I’m not doing it out of malice.
  • No te lo digo en mala onda. I’m not saying this with an ulterior motive.

En buen/mal plan would work in these examples as well. Las cosas que hice, pues no las hago en mal plan.

Sometimes en buena onda can mean seriously.

  • En buena onda. I mean it! (said angrily) I’m not goofing around.
  • En buena onda, dame las llaves antes de que me encabrone. I’m serious. Give me the keys before I get pissed.
  • Digo, en buena onda, ¿qué le viste en él? I mean, seriously, what did you see in him? (movie dialogue)