How To Say Goodbye In German (Formal & Informal)

  • Fergus O'Sullivan
    Written byFergus O'Sullivan
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How To Say Goodbye In German (Formal & Informal)

In this guide I’ll go over how to say goodbye in German.

I’ve already covered how to say hello in a recent post.

A big part of learning any language is understanding how salutations work, and learning German is no exception.

Saying goodbye is a little more straightforward than greeting people or even introducing yourself, so it’s easy to leave people with a good impression in German.

How to say goodbye in German

I’ll kick off with a goodbye you likely already know, one that’s good for almost any situation.

Formal goodbyes

Auf wiedersehen

Auf wiedersehen, which means “until we see each other again” (lit: “until seeing again”) is a great all-around way of saying goodbye in German.

It’s also the most common formal way to say goodbye, as most others are considered informal.

Auf wiedersehen works in almost any context and though you may come across as a little stuffy if you say it in an informal setting, it’ll do just fine.

Basically, if you learn just one German goodbye, this is it.

Auf wiederhören

Auf wiedersehen has a brother: auf wiederhören.

It means “till we hear each other again” and is, unsurprisingly, used only to finish phone conversations.

This can also be used in almost any setting, as long as it’s phone-related.

Bis…

Of course, it’s rare that you just wish somebody goodbye and that’s it.

You usually want to add something in the form of well-wishes or some other kind of follow-up.

In German, the most common way to follow up is to say bis and then add a time. If you’ve read my guide to German prepositions, you’ll know bis means “until,” but it’s only used for time.

Here are a few examples.

Listen to audio

Bis später / bis dann

Until later / until then

These are very common and you’ll run into them a lot.

There’s also bis bald (“see you soon,” literally, “until soon”) which like the other two teeters on the edge of informality, but all are good if you’ll see somebody soon or at an appointed time.

Listen to audio

Bis morgen

Until tomorrow

This is a good one when you’re leaving work, an alternative is to say bis and then add a day of the week, so like this:

Listen to audio

Bis Montag!

See you Monday!

There are a lot of variations using bis, but these are the most important ones.

Here’s a little recap of the days of the week so you can use bis more easily.

DeutschEnglish
MontagMonday
DienstagTuesday
MittwochWednesday
DonnerstagThursday
FreitagFriday
SamstagSaturday
SonntagSunday

Guten Abend / Guten Nacht

We’ll finish up with two goodbyes you’ll hear a lot when leaving bars or restaurants.

Listen to audio

Guten Abend!

Good evening!

Much like in English, this one can be used as a greeting and a goodbye any time after 18:00 or so.

If you want to say it as a goodbye to your friends, though, you should probably add the word noch, so it becomes more like this:

Listen to audio

Einen guten Abend noch!

Have a great evening!

As we’ll see in the next section, you can say this with other times of day, too.

Finally, you can wish somebody good night with the following phrase:

Listen to audio

Gute Nacht!

Good night!

As in English, this is never used as a greeting and only to wish somebody a good night’s rest.

If you know they’ll be partying all night, for example, you wouldn’t say this.

Dialog examples

So what do all these look like in real-life German?

Let’s start with ending a business meeting where you decided you’d meet again on Thursday.

Listen to audio

Auf wiedersehen, bis Donnerstag!

Goodbye, see you Thursday!

It doesn’t matter if you’re talking to one person or two hundred, there’s no change in the sentence, which is nice.

However, if you’re leaving a restaurant around 21:00, your waiter might say something like:

Listen to audio

Guten Abend, bis zum nächsten Mal!

Good evening, until the next time!

If after that you make your way to your hotel, the receptionist will likely say something like

Listen to audio

Gute Nacht!

Good night!

Informal goodbyes

Now that you have a bit of an idea on how to say a formal goodbye, let’s take a look at some more informal ones.

Many formal goodbyes can be adapted to informal situations, so there’s a lot of variety here.

On top of that, there’s a lot of slang ways to say bye, which I won’t delve into too much.

However, I figured the following were the best to learn for beginners, especially the one you’ll hear a lot more than any other, namely…

Tschüss

If auf wiedersehen is the go-to goodbye for formal situations, tschüss is the one used in informal ones.

Though there are other ways to say goodbye, you can use this one in all informal settings and be just fine.

To expand on my earlier advice: if you’re going to learn two German goodbyes, make tschüss the second.

Schönen Tag

Much like before, though, you don’t just want to tell people “bye” and leave it at that.

My favorite way to wish people a good day in German is to say:

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Schönen Tag (noch)!

Have a nice day!

Schön means “beautiful,” but in this case it’s translated as “nice.”

You don’t have to add noch at the end as people will understand what you mean, though it’s more grammatically correct when you use it.

Wir sehen uns

Another option is to say something like “we’ll see each other.”

To do that, you need to use the reflexive verb sehen.

This is another flexible way to say goodbye, for example, you can say:

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Wir sehen uns bald.

We will see each other soon.

You can also leave it a bit more vague and say something like:

Listen to audio

Wir sehen uns später.

We'll see each other later.

Wir sehen uns is a very common, versatile way to say goodbye, so it’s definitely worth learning.

Wir sprechen uns

Wir sprechen uns (“we’ll talk to each other”) works more or less the same way.

It can be used for phone conversations, as well as in-person ones:

Listen to audio

Wir sprechen uns morgen.

We'll talk tomorrow.

It’s not as common as wir sehen uns, but you’ll hear it often enough.

Viel Spass!

My final example is a bit of a silly one as it just means “have fun!”

Obviously, you wouldn’t use this when leaving a business meeting, but when friends are going to the pub or something, it’s perfect.

Some more dialog examples

As there are a lot of different ways to say goodbye in informal situations, I can’t list them all here; think of these as approximate versions of what you’ll come across.

For example, say you met a friend in the street in the morning.

You have a chat, and when you leave you say something like:

Listen to audio

Tschüss, schönen Tag noch!

Bye, have a nice day!

Another example is one where you met a friend for coffee, had a chat and made some vague plans you need to finalize a bit for your next meeting.

Listen to audio

Tschüss, wir sprechen uns bald!

Bye, we'll talk soon!

Then again, if you want to give somebody the brush off, you could say the following:

Listen to audio

Tschüss, wir sehen uns später!

Bye, we'll see each other later!

As with any language, there are dozens of ways to end a conversation, but hopefully these examples will get you on your way.

Viel Spass!

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Donovan Nagel
Donovan Nagel - B. Th, MA AppLing
I'm an Applied Linguistics graduate, teacher and translator with a passion for language learning (especially Arabic).
Currently learning: Greek
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