Nothing is as bittersweet as saying goodbye, but it’s not as bad as not knowing how to say bye at all. An important part of practical language learning is knowing how to start and end a conversation. If you’ve been following the blog, you can already say hello in German thanks to the 100+ Common German Phrases post. Now it’s time to learn how to say goodbye in German.
The culture around goodbyes in German is very similar to English, so all you have to worry about is learning the right words. There’s a wide variety of German leave-taking phrases, each useful in its own context. I’ll be taking you on a tour of all the ways to say farewell in German, so you can pick the goodbyes that are right for you.
In German “a goodbye”, as in the moment in which goodbyes are said, is “der Abschied”, however if you are looking to say goodbye to someone, the following would be pretty good choices! They’re some of the most frequently spoken because they’re appropriate for everyday, casual use.
Tschüss translates to “goodbye” or “bye” in English and can be used in all the same situations that you would say “bye” in! It’s versatile and the most commonly used by everyone, at least, in Hochdeutsch (German’s standard dialect). If you’re new to German, you can’t go wrong with using Tschüss as your sole goodbye.
Since Tschüssi is diminutive it’s slightly more informal than its counterpart. But watch out! Some people feel very strongly that only women say Tschüssi. So if maintaining a masculine veneer is important to you, maybe avoid this one, however if you want to add some endearing charm to your speech, sprinkling in Tschüssi might be the way to go!
Both are loanwords from Italian and French respectively. Tschau and ciao work both as a greeting and as a goodbye, while adieu and ade are reserved for goodbyes only. Tschau is a popular goodbye in Berlin, so if you’re in town it might be good to have it in your back pocket! Ade is more common among older people in Southern Germany.
These words are also best used in more casual farewells.
Like in English, German has plenty of ways to build a “See you [at some later date]” sentence. If you know the components you can generate as many as time and date words that you know! Here are some options:
- Auf Wiedersehen (Until we see each other again) – I think a lot of people are familiar with this one thanks to The Sound of Music song. It’s more formal than Tschüss, but you wouldn’t be remiss in using it in everyday conversation if you’re unsure of the level of formality you should be applying.
- Auf Wiederhören (Until we hear each other again) – The same as Auf Wiedersehen except for use over the phone, or any other audio-only medium! For further phone-call phrases and etiquette this article on German phone call vocab is a big help.
- Auf Wiederschauen (Until we look upon each other again) – This is a regionalism from Austria/South East Germany. If you are interested in learning more about regional language differences in German check out this article explaining the different German dialects.
- Wir sehen uns später (We’ll see each other later) – For when a conversation gets cut short, or you have a lot to catch up on with someone.
- Wir sprechen uns [insert time/date word here] wieder (We’ll talk again on/at [insert time/date word here]) – With the help of a time and date vocab list you can promise to speak again whenever you like!
- Bis später (Until later/See you later)
- Bis bald (See you soon/ direct translation: until soon)
- Bis dann (Until then/See you then)
- Bis Montag (Until Monday/See you Monday)
- Bis Morgen (See you tomorrow)
- Bis zum nächsten Mal (Until next time)
- Bis nächste woche (Until next week/see you next week)
- Bis [insert time/date word here] (Until [insert time/date word here]) – Again with the help of a handy vocab list the “bis —” phrase holds infinite possibilities!
Pairing any of the above “see you later”’s with Tschüss or one of the other goodbyes from the previous section can give your phrasing a bit more variety. For example:
- Tschüss, bis bald! (Goodbye, see you soon!)
- Tschau, wir sprechen uns später! (Bye, we’ll talk later!)
- Auf Wiedersehen. Tschüss! (Until we see each other again. Goodbye!)
- Bis dann. Wir sprechen uns! (Until then. We’ll speak again!)
It means farewell, but a more literal translation would be “live well”. Not only is Lebewohl a formal goodbye in German, it also implies there will be a significant length of time until the speakers see each other again. So it’s not applicable for day-to-day use and is better for when someone is moving away, or traveling for a long time. But if that doesn’t apply the tried and true Auf Wiedersehen always works as a formal goodbye.
(Notes: Even though Lebewohl is very formal, it is not used to end letters or emails. You may also see Lebewohl written as Lebwohl or Leb wohl.)
Further, like “der Abschied”, which I mentioned earlier, “das Lebewohl” is also the moment of saying farewell a.k.a “a goodbye”. Therefore, if you’re attending a farewell dinner, or say a teary goodbye at the airport you could discuss it with someone else like this:
- Ich musste gestern jemandem Lebewohl sagen (I had to say farewell to someone yesterday)
- Wir haben uns heute verabschiedet (We said goodbye today)
Make sure you don’t forget the proper conjugation when you use Abschied as a verb like this!
Not everything you say when parting ways with someone necessarily means “goodbye”. Sometimes you want to wish your conversation partner a nice day, or let them know that you want to see them again. Here’s some useful phrases to accompany your farewells.
- Es hat mich gefreut, sie kennen zu lernen (It pleased me to meet you) – A great way to formally sign out of a conversation with someone you’ve just met!
- Es war schön mit Ihnen wieder zu sprechen (It was nice speaking with you again) – Just finished a meeting with someone you’ve worked with before? Try slipping this into your goodbye!
- Hoffentlich können wir uns wieder treffen (Hopefully we can meet again) – For when you want to make plans for a future meeting.
- Mach’s gut (Take care) – This one is casual almost to the point of being slang, but it’s excellent for parting with friends or close family.
- Es war nett dich kennen zu lernen (It was nice to meet you) – A more informal version of “Es freut mich, sie kennen zu lernen”.
- Schönen Tag noch (Have a nice rest of your day) – Alternatively just saying “Schönen Tag” works as well.
- Schönes Wochenende (Have a nice weekend)
- Schöne Ferien (Have a nice break/vacation) – Especially useful for students who have semester breaks!
- Schönen Urlaub (Have a nice vacation) – This is specifically for use when discussing recreational travel plans, not for school or work breaks.
The day is coming to a close after a fun evening or maybe you’re relieved to be winding down after some long hours, and it’s time for someone in your group to take their leave. Here’s how you wish people a good night in German.
- Gute Nacht (Good Night) – Solid, commonly used and good for all situations!
- Guten Abend (Good Evening) – If it’s too early to say Gute Nacht try Guten Abend, although it’s more often used as a greeting rather than a goodbye.
- Schönen Abend (Have a nice evening) – This is a better option if you are parting with someone during the evening.
- Schlaf Gut (Sleep well) – If someone is your house guest, or you’re parting with them just before bed this is a great phrase to have under your belt and can be paired with Gute Nacht.
Would hearing examples of these goodbyes being spoken aloud help you learn them better? Here’s some excellent pronunciation examples with Thea from Babbel:
Maybe you’re looking for a phrase for a specific occasion. Do you want to learn how to say Merry Christmas or a holiday-themed goodbye in German? Try our article on Christmas and holiday greetings!
Birthday wishes can also accompany a goodbye at the close of a party or get together.
Parting with a loved one? You will want to include an “I love you” when you leave.
And if you haven’t mastered German greetings yet, check out our post on saying hello in German.