21 Ways to Say ‘Goodbye’ in German [The Ultimate Guide]

goodbye in German

Whether you’re visiting Germany as a tourist, spending time with German speaking friends or getting some speaking practice with a language exchange partner, it’s essential to know how to say ‘goodbye’ in German.

Fortunately the easiest way to say ‘goodbye’ in German is to say tschüß, and although it looks very scary written down with both a ü and ß it’s actually a simple, short word that can be used in any situation.

But there’s a lot more to saying ‘goodbye’ than a simple ‘bye!’ and after reading this post you will know:

  • 8 different ways to say ‘goodbye’ in German
  • Polite ways to wrap up a conversation
  • How to say parting good wishes like ‘it was nice talking to you’
  • How to say ‘have a nice day’ in German

‘Goodbye’ in German

Like in English, German speakers have a number of ways of saying ‘bye’. Let’s take a look at a few of them and what situations they can be used in.

Tschüss / Tschüß (Bye)

Tschüss

The same word spelt differently, this is a really casual, cheery ‘bye!’ You’ll find this is used all over the place, both in more formal situations such as shops and restaurants, and saying goodbye to friends and relatives.

Tschau (Ciao / Bye)

Tschau

The Italian word ‘ciao’ has been adopted by many German speakers and is used interchangeably with tschüß. It’s fairly trendy and informal, but you’ll still hear it being said in slightly more formal situations like cafés.

Auf wiedersehen (Goodbye: in person)

Auf wiedersehen

The well-known saying which is normally reserved for more formal situations. Literally translated as ‘until we see each other again’ (wieder = again, sehen = see).

You would rarely say auf wiedersehen when saying goodbye to a friend, but in a work environment it’s more widely used. Sometimes the auf is dropped, and wiedersehen is used on it’s own.

Auf wiederhören (Goodbye: on the phone)

Auf wiederhören

Similar to auf wiedersehen, this is reserved for ending a phone call and is commonly used in more formal situations. Again, sometimes the auf is dropped.

Literally translated it means ‘until we hear each other again’.

Bis bald (See you soon)

Bis bald

Translated as ‘see you soon’, bis bald has a number is possible versions. Bis actually translates as ‘until’, so ‘until soon’ doesn’t make a lot of sense, you’ll just need to learn this as a phrase.

Other words can be added after bis for different situations:

Bis dann (Wir sprechen uns morgen, bis dann)
Until then (we’ll speak tomorrow, until then)
Bis morgen
Until tomorrow (see you tomorrow)
Bis später
Until later (see you later)

Mach´s gut (Take care)

Mach’s gut

Mach’s gut literally translates as ‘make it good’ but what it really means is ‘take care’, ‘so long’ or ‘all the best’. A really good, versatile phrase for a cheery send off.

It can be combined with other goodbyes for example:

Mach’s gut, tschüß!
Take care, bye!
Bis bald, mach’s gut
See you soon, take care

Leb wohl (Farewell)

Leb wohl

Think of leb wohl being a bit like ‘farewell’ in English. You probably won’t actually use this these days, but you might hear it being dramatically uttered in old films as the hero rides off into the sunset.

Servus (Goodbye)

Servus

If you’ve read the ‘how to say ‘hello’ in German’ post, you’ll probably recognise the word Servus. This word is not only used to say ‘hello’, but also to say ‘goodbye’ in German. However you’ll only hear it in Austria and maybe Bavaria.

Finishing Conversations

So you been hanging out with a friend all afternoon, but time is going by and you need to leave. What’s the best way to express to your friend that the conversation needs wrapping up? Here are a few suggestions:

Ich muss los

Meaning: I have to go

Ich muss los

You could also say ich muss jetzt los, for ‘I have to go now’. Pretty self explanatory, it works for ‘gotta go’, ‘I have to run’ etc.

Ich gehe / fahre jetzt besser

Meaning: I’d better be going

Ich gehe jetzt besser. Ich fahre jetzt besser.

This phrase is just the same as it’s English counterpart ‘I’d better be going’. There is one difference though. Remember that German loves to specify whether you are walking / going (gehen) or driving (fahren). We have to make this distinction in this phrase.

So if you are leaving on foot, such as walking out of a café, use ich gehe jetzt besser. This is also suitable for ending a phone call with a friend.

If you’re leaving in the car or public transport, for example going to the airport or driving home, use ich fahre jetzt besser.

Wir sprechen uns

Meaning: We’ll speak to each other

Wir sprechen uns

Translated as ‘we’ll speak to each other’. This is a useful phrase for using on the phone. The base phrase wir sprechen uns can be adapted in a few ways by adding different words:

Wir sprechen uns bald wieder
We’ll speak again soon
Wir sprechen uns morgen / am Montag
We’ll speak tomorrow / on Monday
Wir sprechen uns später
We’ll speak later

Wir sehen uns

Meaning: We’ll see each other

Wir sehen uns

Closely related to the previous phrase, wir sehen uns can be adapted in the same way. Wir sehen uns can be translated in a few ways, for example ‘we’ll meet’, ‘we’ll see each other’, ‘we’ll catch up’ etc. It’s great for saying goodbye in German in a face to face situation.

As before, just add the extra word to clarify when you’ll see each other again:

Wir sehen uns bald
We’ll see each other soon
Wir sehen uns im September
We’ll see each other in September
Wir sehen uns später
We’ll see each other later

For sadder situations you could use the following phrase, but I hope you never need to use it:

Wir sehen uns wahrscheinlich nicht mehr
We probably won’t see each other again

Parting Good Wishes

In German it’s very common to have longer goodbyes than English speakers may be used to. Usually a goodbye in German includes wishing someone a nice day, saying how nice it was to talk with them, arranging another time to meet or a combination of all of these.

This makes for a more drawn out goodbye, which I think is lovely. Once you have learned a number of stock phrases, you can join them together and receive a similar goodbye wish in response.

Here are a few parting wishes you can try out:

Schön mit dir zu reden

Meaning: Nice to talk with you

Schön mit dir zu reden

Translated as ‘nice talking with you’. Good for use on the phone. I don’t think I need to explain further.

Es war schön, dich wiederzusehen

Meaning: It was nice to see you again

Es war schön, dich wiederzusehen

Translated as ‘it was nice to see you again’, this is a great one for face to face goodbyes with old friends.

Gute Fahrt

Meaning: Drive safe

Gute Fahrt

Translated as ‘safe travels’, ‘bon voyage’, ‘drive safe’, this is useful phrase for seeing someone off in a car or on public transport. Maybe a friend or family member is driving to the airport or train station. Be sure to wish them gute Fahrt!

Pass auf dich auf

Meaning: Take care of yourself

Pass auf dich auf

Translated as ‘take care of yourself’ or ‘look after yourself’, this is a good one for saying goodbye to someone you might not be seeing for a while.

Schönen / Guten Heimweg

Meaning: Have a good journey home

Schönen Heimweg, guten Heimweg

Similar to gute Fahrt but this phrase is specific to wishing someone a safe journey back home. A nice way to say goodbye to someone in German after a holiday together. Schönen and guten are interchangeable here, and Heimweg translates as ‘way home’.

Komm gut nach Hause

Meaning: Get home safe

Komm gut nach Hause

Literally translated as ‘come good to house’, this informal phrase is yet another way to wish someone a safe trip home. If you’re a grammar nerd like me, you may notice that this phrase uses the German imperative form.

If you want to use the formal version, you would say kommen Sie gut nach Hause.

‘Have a Nice Day’ in German

Ich wünsche dir einen schönen Tag

Meaning: I wish you a nice day

Ich wünsche dir einen schönen Tag

A common pleasantry, often used between friends. It’s translated as ‘I wish you a nice day / evening’. As before, you can change what follows ich wünsche to personalise this phrase:

Ich wünsche dir einen schönen Abend
I wish you a nice evening
Ich wünsche dir eine schöne Woche
I wish you a nice week
Ich wünsche euch einen schönen Urlaub
I wish you guys a lovely vacation / holiday

Hab einen schönen Tag

Meaning: Have a nice day

Hab einen schönen Tag

For a shorter version of ‘have a nice day’ we can use the imperative phrase hab einen schönen Tag. This is the informal version, but you can also use the formal imperative phrase:

Haben Sie einen schönen Tag
Have a nice day [formal]

As before you can adapt the phrase to personalise it a bit:

Hab einen schönen Abend
Have a nice evening [informal]
Hab eine schöne Zeit
Have a lovely time [informal]

Schönen Tag / Abend noch

Meaning: Have a nice rest of your day / evening

Schönen Tag noch, schönen Abend noch

Similar to the previous goodbye wish, but shorter, this one means ‘have a nice rest of day / evening’. You’ll often hear this being said to you by waiting staff in cafés and restaurants, or shop workers as you leave.

You can respond with danke, gleichfalls or danke, ebenfalls which both mean ‘thanks, same to you’.

There we have it, 21 ways to say ‘goodbye’ in German for all different occasions. Try some of the out next time you speak to a German speaking friend or when you’re leaving a café in Germany.

Which ones do you use the most?

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