14 Ways to Say Goodbye in German: Formal, Informal, Neutral Ways to Say Bye

Saying goodbye is a cornerstone of any language. Saying goodbye is a bridge: it connects present interactions with future ones. Denisa from Spring German, a project I co-founded, made a great, short lesson about how native German speakers say goodbye to each other:

German is a language of logic, formality and context: there are at least 14 ways to say goodbye in German! And in this article, we’ll list every one of them. Imagine you’re attending a conference in Berlin, and you have to part ways with professionals from your field: you freeze, because you don’t know how to say goodbye formally.

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Here are the German expressions with English translations and different uses cases: click on any one of them to learn more:

GermanEnglishUse Case
Auf Wiedersehen
GoodbyeFormal situations
Auf Wiederhören
Goodbye (on the phone)Formal phone conversations
Lebewohl
FarewellVery formal or final goodbye
Herzliche Grüße
Best regardsFormal letter/email sign-off
Tschüss
ByeCasual farewells
Bis dann
See you thenWhen planning to meet soon
Bis später
See you laterCasual, later the same day
Ciao
Bye (borrowed from Italian)Very casual
Mach’s gut
Take careInformal, caring goodbye
Bis bald
See you soonExpectation of meeting soon
Servus
Bye (in Bavaria or Austria)Informal, regional
Auf bald
See you soonNeutral, soonish goodbye
Bis zum nächsten Mal
Until next timeNeutral, no set time
Wir sehen uns
See you (implied: later/soon)Neutral promise of future meeting

Formal ways to say goodbye in German

In professional or more formal settings, choosing the right phrase to part ways can have an effect on your career. Don’t be embarrassed by German slang byes. A formal goodbye shows respect and proper etiquette.

1. Auf Wiedersehen – Goodbye

Effortless Answers

Auf Wiedersehen is the first and foremost German goodbye you have to learn. It is highly formal and best suited for professional settings or when parting ways with someone you may not see for a while.

Literally meaning “until we see again,” this phrase shows the true hope of meeting in the future.

Here’s how it would look like in a real-life scenario:

  • Auf Wiedersehen, Herr Schmidt. Ich hoffe, wir sehen uns bald wieder. (Goodbye, Mr. Schmidt. I hope we see each other again soon.)

2. Auf Wiederhören – Goodbye (on the phone)

When ending a phone call, Auf Wiederhören is the formal and appropriate choice, translating directly to “until we hear each other again.”

Consider the following example:

  • Auf Wiederhören, Frau Müller. Vielen Dank für das angenehme Gespräch. (Goodbye, Mrs. Müller. Thank you for the pleasant conversation.)
goodbye in german with old red wired phone

3. Lebewohl – Farewell

Lebewohl is a more dramatic form of farewell. You can imagine it in a drama movie, often used when you don’t expect to see someone for a looong time – if ever again! It really expresses a deeper emotional weight.

Picture this:

  • Lebewohl, mein Freund. Ich werde dich vermissen. (Farewell, my friend. I will miss you.)

4. Herzliche Grüße – Best regards

While not a goodbye per se, Herzliche Grüße (best regards) is usually used at the end of a formal letter or email as a polite way to end a written conversation. Use this when you message your family or your boss in an email.

Take, for example:

  • Herzliche Grüße, und vielen Dank für Ihre Hilfe. (Best regards, and thank you very much for your help.)

Informal ways to say goodbye in German

With friends, family, or in relaxed settings, goodbyes can be more casual and informal.

5. Tschüss – Bye

Tschüss is the go-to informal goodbye among friends, family, and people you are familiar with. It’s casual and friendly.

Let’s see an illustration:

  • Tschüss, bis morgen! (Bye, see you tomorrow!)

6. Bis dann – See you then

Slightly more specific than a simple bye, Bis dann implies that you will see each other again later – but in an unspecified time.

To give you a real-life idea:

  • Bis dann, viel Spaß noch! (See you then, have more fun!)

7. Bis später – See you later

Bis später is used when you expect to see someone later: sooner than when you say ‘bis dann‘. So, ideally, it would be the same day, same week or anytime soon.

Let’s say:

  • Bis später, ich freue mich darauf! (See you later, I am looking forward to it!)

8. Ciao – Bye (borrowed from Italian)

Ciao has been ‘borrowed’ from Italian but is understood and used among German speakers, especially the younger population. It’s very informal and friendly.

From an Italian speaker who also knows German:

  • Ciao, wir sehen uns morgen! (Bye, see you tomorrow!)

9. Mach’s gut – Take care

This phrase is a bit warmer than a simple bye. It implies a sincere wish for the other person’s well-being.

In a dialogue, you could say goodbye in German like this:

  • Mach’s gut, und pass auf dich auf! (Take care, and look after yourself!)

10. Bis bald – See you soon

Bis bald is an optimistic goodbye. Bis bald expresses that the next meeting will happen in the near future.

As an illustration:

  • Bis bald, es war schön, dich zu sehen. (See you soon, it was great to see you.)

11. Servus – Bye (in Bavaria or Austria)

Servus is more regional, commonly used in Bavaria and Austria. It can serve as both hello and goodbye in informal contexts.

In a fictional travel situation in Bavaria, Germany:

  • Servus, bis zum nächsten Mal! (Bye, until next time!)
goodbye in german can be said in a typical bavarian city

Neutral ways of saying goodbye in German

For situations that aren’t clearly formal or informal, these neutral goodbyes can be perfectly appropriate.

12. Auf bald – See you soon

Auf bald is a neutral and optimistic way to part. It suggest a reunion in the not-too-distant future without being too casual.

For instance, after having a good conversation in a café:

  • Auf bald, und vielen Dank für alles! (See you soon, and thank you for everything!)

13. Bis zum nächsten Mal – Until next time

Bis zum nächsten Mal is a neutral phrase indicating that while this meeting has ended, another one is anticipated.

Consider this scenario:

  • Bis zum nächsten Mal, es hat mich gefreut, Sie kennenzulernen. (Until next time, it was a pleasure to meet you.)

14. Wir sehen uns – See you (implied: later/soon)

This phrase is kind of an all-round and it can be adjusted based on context: from slightly formal to casual. It simply means “we’ll see each other.”

When you will meet the other person soon:

  • Wir sehen uns dann im Büro. (We’ll see each other then at the office.)

Practice saying goodbye in German with our Practice Worksheet

Fill in the blanks with the correct expression in German (given to you in English in the brackets)!

This is just one part of this exercise and to be honest, one of our many practice worksheets. Click the button below and get access to our Full Practice Worksheet Library!

Learn naturally about farewells in German with Conversation Based Chunking

Understanding the different ways to say goodbye in German is more than about expanding your vocabulary: by knowing formal, informal and some neutral ways, you get closer to the German culture.

From the formal Auf Wiedersehen to the casual Tschüss, each phrase offers a window into the context and relationships between people. Did you know that the German etiquette is so rich? This blog post was an introduction to this world: if you want to learn more, sign up to our German Conversation Based Chunking Guide and get access to a weekly study program, an essential German chunking list and access to our full Practice Worksheet Library!

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