12 Ways To Say Goodbye In Chinese [+ When To Use Them]

  • Jasmine Chiam
    Written byJasmine Chiam
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12 Ways To Say Goodbye In Chinese [+ When To Use Them]

The first thing you may have learned from most Mandarin resources is saying hello and greeting a person in Mandarin Chinese. However, the same emphasis isn’t always given to learning how you can say goodbye in Mandarin Chinese.

The fact is, ending your meeting or conversation on a good note is key to creating a lasting impression and blending in with native speakers.

But there are various ways to say goodbye, just as there are many different ways to say hello in Mandarin Chinese.

If you’ve been learning Mandarin Chinese for a while now, you may have realized that the greetings you can use are context-sensitive. For example, some greetings are more appropriate for formal situations, while others are better suited for informal and casual settings.

Likewise, learning how you can say goodbye in Mandarin Chinese also involves picking and choosing the most appropriate phrase for the situation.

I’ll dive a little deeper into the different ways you can say farewell in Mandarin Chinese and how you can relay sincerity, respect, or even care and concern through your choice of words. 🇨🇳

Understanding Context

In English, “Goodbye” is a rather stiff and formal way to bid farewell to someone else.

We commonly use “See ya!” or “Bye!” in casual settings, though this may vary based on the context and the person we’re speaking to.

Of course, when flipped in reverse, using informal or casual phrases like “Catch ya later!” in formal situations may not be the best choice, either.

Likewise, there are various ways to say goodbye to a person in the Chinese language, and using the correct phrase will ensure you don’t come off as cold, dismissive, or even rude.

Hence, it’s best to equip yourself with a variety of phrases to choose from so you’re able to draw the most appropriate one out in both formal and informal situations.

Let’s explore the various ways you can say goodbye in Mandarin Chinese.

Their Chinese characters and Hanyu pinyin have also been included to help enhance your learning!

Most common ways to say goodbye in Mandarin Chinese

1. 再见 (zàijiàn)

English meaning: “See you again.”

再见 is one of the most well-known and common phrases to say goodbye in Mandarin Chinese.

再见 comprises of two characters: 再 (zài), meaning “once more” or “again,” and 见 (jiàn), meaning to “see” or “meet.” Hence, in combination, 再见 translates literally to “once more to see,” but it conveys the meaning, “See you again.” or “Goodbye.” when translated to English.

If you’ve spent some time delving into the Chinese language, you’ve probably already chanced upon this phrase. After all, 再见 is the most well-known and basic way to say “Goodbye.” in Mandarin Chinese, and most language-learning resources would have covered this in their curriculum.

It is a common and standard way of bidding farewell to someone you’re going to see again.

And despite translating to “See you again.” in English, it can still be used even if you’re not planning to see the person (ever) again. In this case, this phrase may even convey some sadness and regret because sometimes, goodbyes are heart-breaking.

In addition to that, 再见 could also be considered a rather formal way to bid farewell to a person. You may notice older folks using this phrase rather than younger crowds.

An example of how you could utilize this phrase is when you’re speaking with someone senior or an elder. For instance, you could say, 老师再见 (lǎoshī zàijiàn), meaning “Goodbye, teacher.”

Another closely-related phrase you can use is 再会了(zàihuìle), which also means “Goodbye.” Yet again, this is a rather formal way of saying farewell to someone, meaning it can be utilized when saying goodbye to business partners, clients, or bosses.

2. 拜拜 (bàibài)

English meaning: “Bye-bye!”

If you’re put on the spot, and at the moment, cannot whip up anything from your vocabulary list to say goodbye, here’s one you’re guaranteed to remember.

拜拜 is a loaned phrase from the English language and carries the exact same pronunciation and meaning as “Bye-bye!” While the original word 拜 (bài) takes the fourth tone, people don’t usually pronounce it that way. Instead, you may hear them using the first or second tone instead.

It is commonly used as an informal, casual, and friendly way to bid farewell to close friends, family, and people you’re well-acquainted with.

Of course, it isn’t the most appropriate choice when saying goodbye when placed in any formal and professional setting, such as when you’re speaking to your boss, someone senior, or clients.

Nonetheless, 拜拜 is a straightforward and easy-to-recall way to bid farewell when parting ways.

The phrases we have learned so far are not time-sensitive, but let’s dive into ways to say goodbye that involve different times of the day or different days of the week.

3. 晚安 (wǎn’ān)

English meaning: “Goodnight!”

晚安 is yet another commonly used phrase to say goodbye, or more specifically, “Goodnight!” to someone else.

晚 (wǎn) translates to “night” or “evening” in English, while 安 (ān) means “safe” or “peace.” When used in combination, 晚安 could be likened to wishing someone else a safe and peaceful evening or night.

Do note that 晚安 carries a dual meaning. Firstly, you can use 晚安 when parting ways with a friend or family member at night. In this context, 晚安 serves more as a way to bid farewell to someone else.

However, Chinese-speaking families and households also use this phrase frequently to say “Goodnight.” to their family members before heading off to bed.

In this situation, 晚安 is less likely to convey the meaning of “Goodbye.”, because more often than not, you aren’t saying goodbye to someone else in the same household before going off to sleep.

You may wish your parents “Goodnight!” before making your way to dreamland by saying, 爸爸妈妈晚安 (bàbà māmā wǎn’ān). This can be shortened to 爸妈晚安 (bà mā wǎn’ān). Essentially, this means “Dad, mum, goodnight!”

4. 明天见 (míngtiān jiàn)

English meaning: “See you tomorrow.”

明天见 contains one similar character to the very first phrase we learned, 再见. The character, 见, as we have discussed, means “to meet” or “to see.” When translated to English, 明天 (míngtiān) means tomorrow.

Hence, combining these words gives you the phrase, 明天见, which literally translates to “Tomorrow, see you.”

It’s crucial to keep in mind that while in English, the “see you” comes before “tomorrow,” this is the very opposite for the Mandarin language. Going around saying 见明天 (jiàn míngtiān) isn’t the most accurate.

When learning the phrase 再见, we also discussed that it could be used in situations where you may not plan on seeing the person again.

In contrast to that, 明天见 quite literally means that you are going to or planning on meeting the person the very next day.

Make sure you only use it if this is the case, or your friends and family may be left bewildered.

This phrase could be considered a casual and informal way to bid goodbye, and hence, you can use it when speaking to friends, family, and other people you’re familiar with. Nonetheless, there’s no harm in using it in slightly more formal settings, such as with your colleagues or classmates.

明天见 is somewhat linked to the following few phrases included in this list. By replacing the first two characters, you will form a variety of terms to use in different circumstances.

5. 一会儿见 (yīhuì’er jiàn)

English meaning: “See you in a while!” or “See you later!”

As described above, you’ll notice that using different words before the character 见 can form a completely different-meaning phrase. In this case, the phrase 一会儿 (yīhuì’er) appears before 见.

By piecing fragments of information together, you may have already figured out that 一会儿 translates to “in a while” in English—and you’re correct! Hence, putting two and two together, 一会儿见 is one way to say, “See you later!” or “See you in a while!” when parting ways temporarily with someone else.

Once again, it would be best if you weren’t mindlessly dishing this phrase out whenever you bid farewell to another person. The fact is, it can be misleading and confusing if you aren’t actually planning on seeing the person in a while.

Native speakers commonly use this phrase when they plan to meet the person again on the same day (usually in a few hours or so). On the flip side, if you’re scheduled or bound to meet the person the next day, then 明天见 would be more appropriate to use.

6. 回头见 (huítóu jiàn)

English meaning: “See you!” or “See you soon!”

Another way to say “See you!” in Mandarin Chinese is by using the phrase 回头见. Again, the 见 character appears in this phrase, but something you may be less familiar with is 回头 (huítóu).

回头 carries several meanings in the Chinese language, including “regret” or “look back.” If you were to take it very literally, 回头见 translates to “See you when I turn my head back.”, which may sound absurd in English.

In the context of saying goodbye, though, 回头见, which translates to “See you!” or “See you soon!” in English.

If you know you’re going to meet the person soon (in a few days or weeks), then this phrase can be used. However, you can also utilize it if you’re going to see the person again on the same day.

Unless the previous greeting, 一会儿见 (yīhuì’er jiàn), there’s no specific timeframe for when you will be seeing the person again when using 回头见.

You could be seeing them in hours, days, weeks, or even months. Hence, this phrase could be likened to “See you when I see you.” In this sense, it bears more versatility in terms of its usage.

7. 周一见 (zhōuyī jiàn)

English meaning: “See you on Monday!”

You’ve probably already spotted the pattern by now.

周一 translates to “on Monday”, and therefore, you can use the phrase 周一见 when you’re planning to or likely going to be seeing the person on Monday.

For example, you can bid goodbye to your colleagues with 周一见 on a Friday evening after you’ve finished your shift—that is, if you’re actually going to see them on Monday after the weekend has elapsed.

In this case, you could also say, “See you next week!”. In Mandarin Chinese, the phrase you could employ would be 下周见 (xià zhōu jiàn). As you may have already guessed, 下周 (xià zhōu) translates to “next week” in English.

While native speakers commonly use 周一见, you may also hear people saying 星期一见 (xīngqí yī jiàn), which bears the exact same meaning.

For your added information, you can also say 下个月见 (xià gè yuè jiàn), which means “See you next month!”.

The repeating characters are 下 and 见. In this context, 下 refers to next, and its opposite, 上 (shàng) would be used in phrases referring to the previous week or month. For instance, 上个月 (shàng gè yuè) refers to “last month” in the Chinese language.

The Chinese language is dynamic and intriguing to learn, and by observing and studying patterns, you’ll pick up this language in due time!

Now that we’ve covered the more simple ways to bid someone farewell in Mandarin Chinese, let’s look into more advanced phrases you may wish to pick up as well, especially if you’re up for a challenge! 😄

8. 有空再聊 (yǒu kòng zài liáo)

English meaning: “Let’s talk again when you’re free.”

有空再聊 is a relatively informal and casual way of saying goodbye to your friends and family. 有空再聊 can be broken down into two main parts, firstly, 有空, which literally translates to “have space/availability” and 再聊, which means “talk again” in English.

Hence, when combined, you’re telling someone, “Let’s talk again when you’re free.” or “Let’s talk again when you’re available.”

However, do take note that the subject of the sentence isn’t specified. Essentially, this phrase can also mean “Let’s talk again when I’m free.” or “Let’s talk again when we have time.”

Therefore, the meaning you’re conveying will depend on the context and situation.

Say you’re rushing for something else, but your friend is in the mood for endless chatter. In that case, you can let them know you’re a little busy but would love to catch up and chat when you both have some spare time.

To wiggle yourself out of the conversation, you can end with a friendly “不好意思。我有点忙。有空再聊。” (Bù hǎoyìsi. Wǒ yǒudiǎn máng. Yǒu kòng zài liáo). This means, “Please excuse me. I’m a little busy now. Let’s talk again when we’re both free!” In this phrase, 不好意思 means “Excuse me.” in English.

Because of the casual tone of this phrase, it’s best to reserve it only for friends and family.

9. 再联系 (zài liánxì)

English meaning: “Let’s keep in touch!” or “Let’s stay in contact!”

再 (zài) literally translates to “again”, while 联系 (liánxì) means “contact” or “connect”. When you piece both of them together, they convey the meaning “Let’s keep in touch!”. You can also say 再联络 (zài liánluò), which carries the exact same message.

Another variation of this phrase is 常联系 (cháng liánxì), meaning “Let’s stay in touch.” or “Let’s keep in touch.”, and in this case, 常 (cháng) means often. 保持联络 (bǎochí liánluò) is another way to convey the same meaning and is quite commonly used as well.

These phrases can be employed in several situations and contexts.

For instance, let’s say you bumped into your old friend and had a fantastic catch-up conversation going. Unfortunately, you were interrupted by a phone call to run some urgent errands. Before parting ways, you can say 再联系 (zài liánxì) to bid farewell to your friend and let them know you would like to stay in touch.

再联系 can also be used if you don’t intend to meet up physically and prefer to stay in touch through calls or text.

But ironically enough, you can also use this phrase when you don’t actually plan to stay in contact with the other person. In this case, it would be more of an obligatory and polite way to say goodbye to another person.

In other circumstances, you could use 常联系 (cháng liánxì) when bidding farewell to colleagues and classmates, since you would likely be parting ways for good.

For example, during your graduation ceremony or on your last day at work, you can say 常联系 while saying goodbye before going your own way. This essentially lets the person on the receiving end know that you would still like to keep in touch, even though you would not see each other as often any longer.

While the phrases we’ve covered on this list thus far mainly carry a casual and more relaxed tone, let’s look into some that are more appropriately used in formal and professional settings.

10. 失陪了 (shī péi le)

English meaning: “Do excuse me. I have to leave now.”

失陪了 is a very formal way of asking to take your leave, and it is usually used in business and work settings. You may also use it jokingly with friends, though the other phrases we have learned are more commonly used in such casual situations.

失 (shī) literally translates to “fail,” “miss,” or “lose,” while 陪 (péi) means “accompany” in English. Therefore, the literal translation of this would be “fail to accompany,” which, in essence, forms a very polite way to ask to take your leave.

This is especially suitable if you are in a formal setting and would like to announce your departure courteously.

Other than 失陪了, you may have also heard someone say 失陪一下 (shīpéi yīxià). It has a closely-related meaning to 失陪了. You’ll notice the only difference is the 一下 (yīxià) at the end of the phrase, which means “for a while” or “for a bit.”

Hence, if you piece this information together, 失陪一下 translates to “Please excuse me for a while.”, but in a rather formal fashion. For instance, if you were in a business meeting and had to excuse yourself to use the washroom, you can say 失陪一下 to let them know you’ll be gone for a short bit.

Another rather formal way of bidding farewell to someone else is using the phrase 告辞 (gàocí). You can say 我先告辞了 (wǒ xiān gàocíle), which means “I need to take my leave.” in English.

You can use this in the event where something urgent crops up, and you need to head off to handle the matter.

On the other hand, when you’re in a casual setting, you can let your friends or family know you’re leaving by saying 我先走 (wǒ xiān zǒu). This translates to “I’ll get going first.” in English. Another way to say this is 我走了 (wǒ zǒule) or 我先走一步 (wǒ xiān zǒu yībù), which means “I’m off.”

11. 照顾自己 (zhàogù zìjǐ)

English meaning: “Take care!”

If you wish to express your concern and care when saying goodbye, this is a great phrase to use. 照顾 (zhàogù) translates to “look after,” while 自己 (zìjǐ) means “oneself.”

Hence, piecing the two and two together, 照顾自己 literally translates to “Look after oneself,” but in the context of bidding farewell to someone else, you’re reminding them to look after themselves, or in other words, to take care.

In addition to that, you can take even further and add a 好好 at the front, forming the phrase 好好照顾自己 (hǎohāo zhàogù zìjǐ). Essentially, this means “Do take good care of yourself.” in English.

There are several situations where this phrase slots in perfectly. For example, if you’re sending a friend off abroad, or if you’re a parent sending your kid off to college, you can say something along the lines of 好好照顾自己 as you’re bidding farewell. This serves to remind them to take care while they’re away.

Other than in the context of saying goodbye, you can also use another closely-related phrase to express concern in specific situations.

For example, if your friend shares their woes and worries with you, you can remind them to take care of their health and wellbeing by saying, 别太担心了, 照顾好自己 (bié tài dānxīnle, zhàogù hǎo zìjǐ). This translates to “Please don’t worry too much. Take good care of yourself.” in English.

As you may have noticed, a few minor tweaks here and there allows this phrase to be used in multiple situations and contexts.

12. 保重 (bǎozhòng)

English meaning: “Take care!”

Another way you can say “Take care.” is by utilizing the term 保重 (bǎozhòng). 保 (bǎo) means “maintain,” “save,” or “guard,” while 重 (zhòng) means “weight.”

This directly translates to “maintain your weight,” but it’s more of a way to encourage someone to eat well and take good care of their wellbeing while they’re away.

If you really want to get fancy, you can pair this with a Chinese idiom 一路顺风 (yīlùshùnfēng). This literally translates to something along the lines of “May the wind always be with you throughout your journey.” but more succinctly conveys the meaning of “Have a safe flight.” or “Have a safe journey.”

Finally, if you wish to show your care and concern for someone who isn’t leaving to somewhere far off or for a long while, you can say 慢走 (màn zǒu).

While this literally means “walk slowly”, it conveys the meaning “Take care.” and serves as a great way to say bid goodbye to guests, elders, or someone senior.

There’s more than one standard way to say goodbye in Mandarin Chinese

And occasionally, you can even express emotions, show respect, and convey concern through the phrases you utilize.

Whether you’re sending a close friend off or bidding goodbye to a family member who will be heading off to college, there’s definitely a diverse range of phrases to pick from to communicate your good wishes and farewell.

Sometimes, the farewells determine what someone will remember you by, so it’s a great idea to close off meetings and conversations in a context-friendly and suitable manner.

Other than learning the different ways you can say goodbye, you may also wish to enhance and broaden your knowledge of how you can say hello and greet a person in Mandarin Chinese. Starting and ending your conversations on a good note will leave a lasting impression, no doubt about that!

Do you know of any other unique or common ways to say goodbye in Mandarin Chinese?

If you answered with a resounding “yes,” I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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