You've mastered how to say 'hello'. You've made it to the end of a conversation with a French speaker. Now all that's left is to say 'goodbye'.
This should be simple enough, surely? For many people, the first two words they learn in French are 'au revoir'. But sometimes this expression can seem somewhat basic, and if you're attempting to impress your interlocutor, you might want to close the conversation with something a little less common.
There are a range of different ways of saying 'goodbye'. Below we've listed some of the most common ones, and the different contexts in which they should be used.
Adieu - Farewell
Best translated as 'farewell' in English, which gives you a sense of how formal - if not archaic - this term is. You're probably most likely to encounter it in fiction with a historical setting or when someone is being ironic. Unlike the other words on this list, it also has a sense of finality about it, and is more likely to be spoken when there is no expectation of seeing the other person again.
Au plaisir de vous revoir - Until next time
If that's too much of a mouthful, you can also simply say ‘Au plaisir.’
Au revoir - Goodbye
You all know this one. It’s difficult to translate literally into english - it means something like ‘until we see again’ - but you can use it even with people you don’t plan on seeing again. It is, after all, the commonest way to say goodbye in French.
Bonne soirée - Good evening
Bonne soirée' means the same as 'bonsoir', but is more likely to be used as a 'goodbye', while the latter is more likely to be used to say 'hello'.
Bon après-midi - Good afternoon
Like 'bonsoir', 'Bon après-midi' can be used as a salutation as well as a way of saying goodbye - provided you say it in in the afternoon, of course.
Bonne nuit - Goodnight
'Bonne nuit' is typically only used to say goodbye at night, and not 'hello'.
À plus tard - Until later
This is a useful way of saying goodbye for when it’s likely you’ll see your interlocutor again at some point soon - perhaps later in the day, or within the week.
À bientôt - Until soon
'À bientôt' is similar to 'À plus tard', but is a little more relaxed - best used when you have plans to meet up again, but don't know when exactly.
À demain - Until tomorrow
Meaning 'Until tomorrow', this expression is best used when you plan on seeing your interlocutor the next day
Salut - Bye
This is an informal way of saying goodbye. You can also use it to say hello.
À un de ces quatre - See you around
This is quite an informal way to say 'goodbye' to someone.
À tout à l’heure - Later
You can also say 'à toute'
À plus dans l’bus - See you on the bus
A handy way to see someone off - a close friend, maybe, or someone else with whom you can speak informally - but don't take this slang expression too literally. Its English equivalent would be something like 'see you later alligator'.
Bisou bisou - Kiss kiss
This is how alexa signs off her videos. It’s an affectionate way of saying goodbye, and it literally means 'kiss kiss'.
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