I was reflecting on my post about how to greet in German and having a good laugh about it, because we rarely get the opportunity to greet Germans properly. Usually we are greeted by a string of words or sentences as if we were already mid-conversation with someone. The cashier will start rambling along about something (I have no idea what) while ringing up my groceries or I’ll open the door to the cleaning ladies and my “Guten Morgen” is drowned out by what I can only hope is “Can I clean your room now?” in German.
Of course, occasionally we’ll get to greet the hotel staff or a random passerby, and Mr. Meena uses the greetings at his job. So it is useful.
We definitely get the chance to say goodbye more often than we get to say hello. And there are so many options to choose from! So here’s an introduction to goodbyes.
Auf Wiedersehen! Goodbye! This might be the most well-known German phrase for saying goodbye. It’s certainly the phrase that your translator app will give you. Yet, I haven’t had a single German say it to me and I think it’s because it’s considered a bit formal. I wouldn’t recommend using it in a causal situation.
Tschüß! See you! The first time someone said this to me I thought they were saying “Cheers!” This is not what I would expect a German to say, so I was confused. I hope you are not confused. They say this one a lot.
Bis dann! Bis nachher! Bis gleich! Bis später! Bis bald!
See you in a while, see you later, see you in a minute, see you then, get away from me! Just kidding.
While they all more or less equate to the American “see you later”, there are some distinctions. Let’s go by time frame.
If you’re going to see someone within a couple hours and you have already made plans, you would say “bis gleich”. If you plan on seeing someone on the same day but you haven’t made plans for the specific time, you would say ‘bis später’. In between the two previous phrases is ‘bis nachher’. You might use this when you know you’ll see someone later for dinner but haven’t set a time yet.
The phrases ‘bis bald’ and ‘bis dann’ are both good options if you want a generic ‘see you later’ with no obligations.
You’ve got to pay attention to the fine text, here, because you know the Germans will.
Gute Nacht! Good night! This is appropriate when you are parting late in the evening.
Ciao! Wait, I thought we were learning German? While ‘ciao’ is Italian for saying either hello or goodbye, I hear Germans saying this word quite often. So don’t hesitate to use it when saying goodbye. After all, it’s not like we are that far away from Italy.
I think that is enough ways to say goodbye for me, but if you’re looking for more you could check out this post.
Which one would you use?