Unfortunately, at some point, we always have to say goodbye to people, and if you are learning German you are probably wondering how to say goodbye in German. Today I want to show you all of the ways in which you can.
Formal Goodbye in German
1. “Auf Wiedersehen” (“farewell”)
This is the formal version of Tschüss. It’s not very modern, but quite suitable in formal situations. The literal translation is “until the next time we see each other” but it’s basically like “farewell” in English.
In a work environment, it’s used more often. Sometimes the “auf” is left out, and “wiedersehen” is used on its own.
“Auf Wiederschauen” is the same as Auf Wiedersehen, but it is only used in Southeast Germany and Austria.
2. Auf Wiederhören
This is essentially equivalent to “Talk to you later,” and is a way to say “bye” on the telephone in German.
The reason why it is applicable to telephone conversations is that the verb “hören” means “to hear,” and saying that to someone in person doesn’t really make sense. literally translates to “upon hearing again”.
Like “Auf Wiedersehen“, “Auf Wieder Hören” is a more formal way of greeting.
The “auf” is also sometimes dropped.
3. “Lebewohl” (“Live well”)
This one is probably the most formal way to say goodbye in German. “Lebewohl” translates to “live well”. It implies that you won’t see that person for a while, and thus you bid them a good life. You can use this if someone is going on a trip for a while or moving permanently. If the person is going away for a short time you’d rather use “Gute Reise” or “Schöne Reise“.
The word “Lebewohl” is also used as a noun indicating the actual moment of saying goodbye, as in “a farewell” (“das Lebewohl“). It is similar to “der Abschied” (“the parting”). If you want to say that you and someone said your goodbyes today, you’d say, “Wir haben uns heute verabschieded”.
Informal Goodbye in German
4. “Tschüß” or “Tschüss” (“Bye”)
This is a word for “bye” that will work in almost all informal situations as it is short and casual. Almost everyone uses it, especially in the standard German dialect or “Hochdeutsch“. But basically, you can’t go wrong with Tschüss. Tschüssi is another form of this word that is sometimes used. As it is a diminutive of “Tschüss“, some will tell you that it is a word for children, but you can use it if you want to sound more charming and endearing.
Note that it can either be spelt with “ss” or “ß” at the end, but the one with “ß” is not very common anymore as it is an outdated spelling.
In Berlin, a slight variant is used. The pronunciation and spelling are a bit different: “Schüss“.
5. “Bis Später” (“See you later”)
“Bis Später” is a very casual “goodbye” in German. The direct translation is: “See you later”.
A variation that means the same is “Bis dann“. Literally, it means “see you then”, but it is used pretty much the same. To spice it up, you can add “Tscüss” to the start: “Tscüss, bis dann“. This translated to English is “Bye, see you then”.
You can also add a specific time instead of just saying “later” or “then”. For example, you can say: “Bis Morgen” which means “see you tomorrow” or you could say “see you on Monday” which is “Bis Montag“. If you want to say, “see you next time”, you can simply say “bis zum nächsten Mal“.
6. “Bis bald” (“See you soon”)
“Bis” means “till” and “bald” is the German for “soon”. So, “Bis bald” means “see you soon” in German. Like the above examples, “Bis bald” is also a casual German “goodbye”. You can also use, “auf bald” as it means the same.
You can, of course, just with “Bis dann“, add “Tschüss” before “Bis bald” to say, “bye, see you soon” (“Tschüss, bis bald“).
7. “Wir sehen uns” (“We’ll see each other”)
The direct translation for this is: “We’ll see each other” or “I’ll see you, and you’ll see me”. It is another informal way to say “see you later”. The difference between “bis später” and “wir sehen uns” is that with “wir sehen uns“, there is no time indicated when you will see the other person again. You can, however, indicate that you’ll see someone at a certain time if you made plans by adding “dann” or a day or time at the end of the goodbye. For example: “ wir sehen uns dann” (“we’ll see each other then”) or “wir sehen uns am Samstag” (“we’ll see each other Sunday”).
If you were talking on the phone or online with someone, you’ll obviously not say that you “see” each other. You’ll rather say that you’ll “talk” later. You can either say “wir sprechen uns bald” (“we’ll speak to each other soon”) or “wir sprechen uns später” (“we’ll speak to each other soon”).
8. “Ciao” (“Bye” or “Bye-Bye”)
So, the next one is actually stolen from Italian and is used very often in the larger cities in Germany. Some say that it is used as much as “Tschüss”.
9. “Viel Spaß” (“have fun”)
The use of this goodbye in German is quite flexible, but it is actually for greeting someone who is about to go do something fun as it means “have fun” or “enjoy”.
10. “Schönen Tag” (“have a nice day”)
This one is used to wish someone a “nice day”. You’d use this one especially when you are saying goodbye at the start of a day. Sometimes they add “noch“, but it doesn’t change the meaning. If you want to be even more casual, you can just say “Tag” as well.
You can also wish someone a nice weekend (“Schönes Wochenende“), evening (“Schönen Abend“), week (“Schönen Woche“), school or semester break (“Schönen Ferien“) or holiday travels (“Schönen Urlaub“).
11. “Gute Nacht” (“good night”)
This one is less formal than “Guten Abend” (“good evening”).
You can also change the “Nacht” to “Reise” if you want to say goodbye to someone going on holiday by wishing them “safe travels” or “a good trip”. It would look like this “Gute Reise” (“Have a good trip”).
12. “Mach’s gut” (“take care”)
You’ll use this one for people close to you and is very colloquial. Literally it means “make it good” but the meaning is actually “take care”. If you want, you can also combine it with another German goodbye such as “tschüss” or “bis bald” by just adding them to pharse like this “ mach’s gut, tschüss” (“take care, bye”) or this “bis bald, mach’s gut” (“see you soon, take care”).
13. “Pass auf dich auf” (“take care of yourself”)
This one is similar to the previous one, but is used when you won’t be seeing that person for some time.
14. “Hoffentlich treffen wir uns wieder” (“hopefully we will meet again”)
This one kind of speaks for itself, if you ask me. If you want to see someone again in the future, use “hoffentlich treffen wir uns wieder“. (If you are not sure why you’d use “wir” (“we”) and “uns” (“us”) next to each other, take a look at my post on German Pronouns. In it, I explain how reflexive pronouns in German work.)
If you want to meet someone again in the future, say, “Hoffentlich treffen wir uns wieder” (hopefully we will meet again).
Ways of Saying Goodbye that Can be Formal or Informal
15. “Es war … kennen zu lernen” (“it was nice to meet you”)
The different variations of saying “it was nice to meet you” in German are, “es war schön dich kennen zu lernen” or “es war nett dich kennen zu lernen“. If you want to make it formal, you can just swop out the “dich” for “Sie“. Here is how it would look, “es war schön Sie kennen zu lernen” or “es war nett Sie kennen zu lernen“.
Another way is to say, “es freut mich, dich kennen zu lernen” or “es hat mich gefreut, dich kennen zu lernen“. Once again you can add
You can also say “es freut mich”, “hat mich gefreut, dich”, or “Sie kennen zu lernen”. This is a more formal way to exit the conversation.
To say “It was nice talking to you again”, it’s “Es war toll, mit Ihnen wieder zu sprechen.” This is appropriate unless it’s your first time meeting someone.
16. “Komm gut nach Hause” (“get home safe”)
Literally translated it might seem strange as the literal translation is “come good to house”, but the real meaning is “get home safe”. This is an informal phrase that you can use to wish someone a safe trip home”.
Of course, you can make it formal by adding “Sie” (formal “you”) like this “Kommen Sie gut nach Hause”.
Regional Variations of Goodbye in German
17. “Servus” (“goodbye”)
“Servus” is one of those words that have many uses. In this case, it means “goodbye” but it can also be used as “hello”.
It is only used in Austria and sometimes in Bavaria (a federal state in southeast Germany).
18. “Tschö” (“goodbye”)
This form of goodbye in German is mostly used in the Rhineland, which is a part of western Germany along the Rhine.
Conclusion: Goodbye in German
Saying goodbye doesn’t need to be boring. You can spice it up with some variations from time to time.
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