say goodbye in German

How to Say ‘Goodbye’ in German? [16 Everyday Phrases]

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It’s time to go! Maybe you’ve been chatting with a language partner, Sprachpartner, on Skype, or perhaps you’ve spent an afternoon catching up with a friend in a café. It could be something as mundane as finishing a transaction in a shop. Either way, you need to say goodbye. From the usual cheery tschüß! to the more elaborate goodbye send off, in this post I’m going to show you 16 ways to say goodbye in German.

These phrases are mostly ideal for informal use, chatting to friends, languages partners etc. So if you are addressing someone as Sie, for example in a shop, I will let you know if a particular phrase is suitable for more formal use.

Finishing Conversations

You’ve been chatting for an hour or so, and you have things to do. 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

Translated as ‘I have to go’, 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.

Translated as ‘I’d better be going’, it’s just the same as it’s English counterpart. 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 talk to each other

Wir sprechen uns

Translated as ‘we’ll talk’. 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. For example wir sprechen uns bald wieder (we’ll talk 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 as wir sprechen uns. 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 catch up soon), wir sehen uns wieder (we’ll meet up again), wir sehen uns später (we’ll see each other later).

For sadder situations you could say wir sehen uns wahrscheinlich nicht mehr (we probably won’t see each other again) but I hope you never need to use this particular phrase.

saying goodbye in german

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. Now I’ve learned a number of stock phrases, I just join them together and receive a similar goodbye wish in response.

Here are a few parting wishes I’ve learned from my German speaking language partners.

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.

Ich wünsche dir einen schönen Tag / Abend

Meaning: I wish you a nice day / evening

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, the detail of time can be changed, for example ich wünsche dir eine schöne Woche (have a nice week).

Schönen Tag / Abend noch

Meaning: Have a nice day / evening

Schönen Tag noch, schönen Abend noch

Similar to the previous goodbye wish, but shorter, this one means ‘have a nice day / evening’ or ‘have a nice rest of your 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’.

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.

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!

Saying Goodbye in German

We have finally made it to actual word ‘goodbye’! 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

Meaning: 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

Meaning: Ciao!

Tschau

The Italian word ‘ciao’ has been adopted by many German speakers and is used interchangeably with tschüß. I get the impression that it’s more of a trendy word that is less used by older folks. But that’s just my impression as an outsider, don’t quote me on it!

(Auf) wiedersehen

Meaning: Goodbye

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 one.

(Auf) wiederhören

Meaning: Goodbye

Auf wiederhören

Similar to auf wiedersehen, this is reserved for ending a phone call. Again, sometimes the auf is dropped.

Bis bald

Meaning: 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 the chunk. Other possibilities include bis dann (until then) for when you’ve arranged another time (e.g: wir sprechen uns am Montag, bis dann), bis morgen (until tomorrow / see you tomorrow) and bis später (see you later).

Mach´s gut!

Meaning: 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. Can be combined with other goodbyes for example mach’s gut, tschüß (take care, bye) or bis bald, mach’s gut (see you soon, take care).

older lady waving at people on boat

There we have it, 16 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 language partner. Which ones do you use the most?

If you enjoyed this post, there are many more posts in the How to Say … in German series.

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