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It’s normal socially to say something to someone when you leave them, just as it is normal to say something when you meet them. What you say depends entirely on the circumstances: how well you know that person, whether your relationship is informal or formal, whether you expect to see them again and if so, when that might be.

All of this comes quite naturally in your own language, but when you are talking to someone in a language other than your own, then how you greet them and what you say on leaving them is obviously going to be quite different. Even if you could literally translate the words and phrases you would use in your own language, these are unlikely to be the same in another language. There could be cultural differences too which must be taken into account when knowing which phrase to use. Luckily, learning what to say in German when you leave someone is not so different from the English equivalent, so doesn’t take too long to master. Here are some tips on what to say when saying “Goodbye”!

Informal phrases to remember in German

It’s actually quite remarkable just how many ways you can say “Goodbye” in both English and German. What you say does depend exactly who you are talking to, whether they are a friend or an informal acquaintance and whether you expect to see them again.

Common ways of saying “Bye” in German are Tschüß and Ciao. Ciao, of course, is Italian, but somehow seems to have slipped into use in Germany just as it has amongst many younger people across Europe.

When you expect to see someone a little later or the next day, there are several ways that this can be translated from common English expressions almost directly into their German equivalents. Examples are:

“See you soon” or “See you later” would be translated into Bis Später or Wir sehen uns.

Wir sprechen uns später is another common informal expression, meaning “We’ll talk to you later.”

The common American expression, often used when you are leaving a café, restaurant, store or office by the person who is working there, “Have a nice day” has a German equivalent which is Schönen Tag or even just Tag.

If it’s a friend or someone you know well and they are going to do something nice or go somewhere nice, you could also say Viel Spaß which means “Have fun!”

Formal phrases to remember in German

The most common formal way of saying Good Bye in German is also probably the best well known which is Auf Wiedersehen. It actually literally translates to “to we see you again” but is to be used when the departure is more formal such as at the end of a business meeting or with someone you don’t know or is older than you.

There’s an even more formal word to use on parting which is Lebewohl. This translates to an instruction to “Live Well” but is simply another formal way of saying “Good Bye”.

How to end a conversation in German

Apart from actually saying “Good Bye” there are lots of other ways to end a conversation when speaking to a German speaker. Common examples are:

“It was nice to meet you!” – Es war schön or Sie kennen zu lernen.

“Take care” – Mach’s gut.

Conclusion

No-one is rude enough to just walk away from someone after talking to them, but it is important to use the right phrase in the right setting. Learning German is a lot of fun and can open the door to making friends and relationships.