Saying Goodbye in German

There are many different ways saying goodbye in German. Many foreigners are unsure what word to use.

At work you can always say -bis morgen- -bis nächste Woche- or -schönen Feierabend- or -schönes Wochenende.

At the dentist, police, tax office or in a business you should say: auf Wiedersehen.

If you are not sure, say: auf Wiedersehen. This is formal enough and always fits, but may seem to be a bit cold when you say it leaving friends. With friends you say: tschau, machs gut, tschüss, bis bald, bye.

At work you should not say: Tschüss. This is problematic. You use tschüss only with familiar people who you trust. I mean anything can happen at work. When you say tschüss right away to everybody at work, then what happens if you have a problem with somebody one day. Then you have to switch back to: -auf Wiedersehen- to this particular person to keep more distance between you and him.

You don't say: -Tschüss- to an asshole, you know what I mean? -Tschüss- and similar forms to say good bye are too familiar and close. You should use these only with friends, at the bakery or at the hairdresser may be.

Leaving your lawyers office or the police station you would say: auf wiedersehen. Getting a job interview you say: -guten Tag- and -auf Wiedersehen- and not -Hi- and -Tschüss-. If you would come into my office and would say "Hi" when you enter and "Tschüss" when you go, this would leave a bad impression with me, I can't help it. I probably wouldn't give you the job and get somebody else.

Stay formal to people you don't know and don't trust and to official people like policeman, lawyers, taxman, doctor and dentist.

Saying "good bye" also depends in which part of germany you live. Just say what everyone else around you says. I don't like "Ade" or "Ciao" (sounds too Italian to me) as I live near Frankfurt/Main.

Don't use bavarian slang in the north. Nobody will understand it. Don't use ridiculous words like "Adele" or anything stupid. When I hear "Adele" I would think the other person is gay. I never heard "Adele" around Frankfurt, but apparently this word exists.

There are other words that simply sound ridiculous to me and would leave a negative impression in my mind as a native german.

The kind of impressions that may be triggered off when using the wrong way of saying goodbye can be different:

  • it may leave an impression of being uneducated
  • a foreigner who speaks not much german
  • a foreigner who speaks german well
  • somebody not from this region
  • a primitive person
  • a superficial unreliable person
  • a person who never had a real job
  • an idiot who only thinks about having fun
  • a guy person
  • a feminine man, a soft man

  • Well, there may be other impressions that are triggered off so just be careful what you say.

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