Perhaps you know how to say “nǐ hǎo,” but not goodbye.
Or perhaps you already know how to goodbye in Chinese – “zài jiàn” – but you’re looking for a new and interesting way to say it.
Here are 9 frequently used expressions when saying goodbye in Chinese, along with detailed explanations so that you can make sure you’re saying exactly what you want.
9 Ways to Say Goodbye in Chinese
1. 再见 (zài jiàn): See you again
This is the most vanilla goodbye in Chinese. It’s what you learn on your first day of Chinese class, and you can’t go wrong with it. 再 (zài) means again. 见 (jiàn) means to see someone. So in literal terms, it doesn’t actually mean “goodbye.” It means “See you again.”
You say this even if you don’t expect to see someone again.
2. 拜拜啦! (bài bài la): Bye bye!
This is especially common in Taiwan – it came over from English and sounds just like it means – bye bye!
3. 明天见 (míng tiān jiàn): See you tomorrow
This is a spin on 再见 (zài jiàn). Instead of 再 (zài), we have 明天 (míng tiān), which means “tomorrow.” So this means “see you tomorrow.”
In contrast to 再见 (zài jiàn), don’t use this unless if you actually expect to see them tomorrow. Otherwise they’ll be confused.
4. 再会！ (zài huì): Meet you again
This is like 再见 (zài jiàn) but isn’t as common. 会 (huì) means to meet. This feels kind of like “catch you later!”
5. 再联系！ (zài lián xì): Let’s stay in touch
This is a variation where you emphasize staying in touch, aside from actually meeting each other. 联系 (lián xì) means to contact a person.
This word could be used politely by some people even though they don’t really intend to stay in touch.
6. 有空再聊 (yǒu kòng zài liáo): When’re you’re free, let’s chat again
This is a very casual way to say goodbye. 有空(yǒu kòng) means to have free time. 聊 (liáo) means to chat.
So if you use this phrase, you’ll sound very local and authentic. It’ll also sound like you think the person you’re talking to is your buddy. Which could be taken differently (in a very friendly way, or even offensively) depending on the context. Probably best to save it for your buddies.
7. 我不得不说再见了 (wǒ bù dé bù shuō zài jiàn le): I’ve got to go
Now you’re being really thoughtful (and indirectly showing off at the same time). This one, which is a mouthful, literally means “I have no choice but to say goodbye.” 我 (wǒ) means “I.” 不得不 (bù dé bù) means “to have no choice but to do something.” 说 (shuō) means “to say.” 了 (le) expresses that something has changed (mainly that you didn’t have to go before, but now you do).
This one is a very nice thing to say, but it doesn’t necessarily sound polite or formal. It’s kind of like when you tell your friends – “listen guys, I’d really love to stay but I just have to go.”
8. 我先告辞了 (wǒ xiān gào cí le): I must leave first (polite)
This is a polite and very standard way to leave a social setting. It feels kind of like “pardon me.” Literally, this one means something like “I announce my departure first.” 先 (xiān) means “first.” 告 (gào) means “to announce.” 辞 (cí) means “to leave.”
You could use this with your friends and it wouldn’t feel awkward. You would say it casually, but it would still express respect for them.
9. 失陪了 (shī péi le): Sorry for leaving (very polite)
This one is the most formal. 失 (shī) means “to fail” to or “to lose.” 陪 (péi) means “to accompany.”
You could use this with your friends, but it could feel like you’re trying to use it humorously, because it is very polite.
Hope that this post on “goodbye” in Chinese can help you leave a good impression with your friends.
In case this isn’t enough for you, here are other resources that you can use to learn how to say goodbye in Chinese:
Saying Goodbye and Farewell: a page with some more variations, as well as audio.
Say Goodbye to “Zaijian”: interesting rant on the rise of “bài bài” over the more traditional ways of saying “goodbye” in Chinese.
How Do Chinese People Say Goodbye on the Phone?: the formalities and etiquette of saying goodbye in Chinese on the phone.
And as a bonus, check out this post on 6 Ways to Say Hello in Chinese Like A Native.