Goodbye in French: From Au revoir to Adieu
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There’s nothing more classically French than a bittersweet goodbye between friends, family, or lovers, often accompanied by handshakes, little kisses on the cheeks, and the obligatory parting interaction with everyone present to truly say goodbye in French.
Although you may not want to at times, it’s an important skill to be able to take your leave from a social situation. But how do you say goodbye in French? In this post, we’ll introduce ten different ways to say goodbye in French, along with when to use each phrase and who they’re best used with.
If you’re looking for hello and goodbye in Spanish, check out our BaseLang post on greetings and goodbyes in Spanish. But for our lesson on French goodbyes, we’re ready to get started. Allons-y!
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Starting with the most common choice for how to say goodbye in French, we have au revoir. The literal translation of au revoir in English is essentially until we see each other again, though this meaning has effectively been lost over the ages: it’s just as common as a farewell between people who will never see each other again, such as between shopkeepers and clients, or over the phone with customer service.
Au revoir can be used in pretty much any situation where you need to say bye in French, whether formal or informal. When in doubt, you really can’t go wrong with au revoir!
- Merci d’être venu. Au revoir ! – Thanks for coming. Goodbye!
A more informal way to say bye in French is salut, which can be used to say both hi and bye. Since salut is fairly casual, it should be used primarily with friends and family. It’s most often heard among younger people these days, although the older generation still sometimes uses it too.
- C’était un très bon film. Salut ! – It was a great movie. Bye!
For more ways to say hello in French, we have another post on our BaseLang blog with 10 ways to say hello in French. Otherwise, we took inspiration for both of these blog posts from the LingoCulture post listing 16 easy French greetings.
Ok, we know what you’re thinking. You want to know how to say goodbye in French, and instead you see an Italian word high on the list! Well just as in English, ciao is also a common way to say goodbye in French. Unlike its dual use in Italian, however, ciao is never used as “hello” in French, only as bye. It remains pretty informal, so avoid using it with your boss, but it’s still suitable when leaving a shop or even a casual restaurant.
- C’était cool te revoir, Camille. Ciao ! – It was cool seeing you again, Camille. Ciao!
Another very common way to say goodbye in French is à bientôt, meaning until soon or see you soon in English. This phrase can be used in formal and informal situations, but should only be used when it’s likely that you’ll indeed see the other person soon. Just like in English, it would be weird to say see you soon in French if you have no idea that you will, in fact, see that person soon!
- On se réunit vers midi, d’accord ? Alors, à bientôt ! – We’ll meet up around noon, okay? Well, see you soon!
À demain in English is see you tomorrow or until tomorrow. It can be used in any context, from formal to informal, whenever you know you’ll indeed see each other again tomorrow.
- Quel bon cours aujourd’hui, mes élèves ! À demain. – What a great class today, my students! See you tomorrow.
À [day of the week]
If you know you’ll see someone again on a certain day of the week, you can use the phrase à [day of the week] as you part ways. For example, if you know you’ll see this person on Tuesday, you say à mardi for see you on Tuesday. This phrase can be used formally and informally.
- J’ai hâte pour la prochaine session ! À mercredi ! – I’m excited for the next session! See you on Wednesday!
Here’s a quick list of the French days. For a detailed lesson, we recommend this post on the days of the week in French.
You can use this structure with other expressions of time as well, such as specific times during the day (noon, 20:00), general periods in the day (this evening), weeks (next week), or months (April, May).
- À midi ! – See you at noon!
- Bonnes vacances ! À janvier. – Have a good holiday break! See you in January.
À la prochaine
If you want to be more general, you can use à la prochaine, meaning see you next time or until next time. This option for goodbye in French can be used formally or informally, and is for when you’re not sure exactly when you’ll see each other again.
- C’était un plaisir de parler avec vous. À la prochaine. – It was a pleasure to speak with you. See you next time.
À plus tard, À plus
À plus tard is more casual, and means see you later in French. You use it when you know you’ll see the person later in the same day, but don’t know exactly when. This expression can be shortened to à plus when spoken, or to À+ or simply the unaccented A+ in writing. These abbreviations are similar to how see you later can be shortened to later, while l8r is even an English equivalent to à+ in French texting language.
- Alors, le match commence. Il faut qu’on y aille. À plus tard ! – The match is starting. We need to get going. See you later!
- Je pars. À plus ! – I’m leaving. Later!
À tout à l’heure
Another informal way to say see you later in French is à tout à l’heure. It’s a bit more formal than à plus tard, so it’s the better option if you don’t know the other person so well. Again, it should be used when you know you’ll see the other person later that same day. In very casual conversation, this phrase can be shortened to à tout.
- Tu reviens, n’est-ce pas ? À tout à l’heure ! – You’re coming back, right? See you later!
Bonne journée, Bonne soirée
The expressions bonne journée and bonne soirée are both good ways to say goodbye in French, but with an additional meaning, respectively, of have a good day or have a good evening. These phrases are very common when leaving a store or restaurant, or between colleagues at work. Both can be used in formal and informal situations.
- Merci, j’espère que vous avez aimé le repas. Bonne journée ! – Thank you, I hope that you liked the meal. Have a good day!
- Il est l’heure de rentrer. Bonne soirée ! – It’s time to go home. Have a good evening!
Appropriately, our final way of saying goodbye in French is adieu. This word is evolved from the phrase à Dieu, meaning literally to God, though today it doesn’t carry as much of a religious connotation. The better translation of adieu is farewell, as it’s usually reserved for situations when it’s unlikely that you’ll ever see the person again.
- Bonne chance avec le nouveau poste à Strasbourg. Adieu. – Good luck with the new job in Strasbourg. Farewell.
In fact, adieu could even be considered as a translation of godspeed in French, used in olden times when bidding someone farewell on a perilous journey.
- Bon courage dans la bataille contre les Celtes. Adieu, mes frères ! – Take courage in the battle against the Celts. Godspeed, my brothers!
For a detailed breakdown of the different ways to wish someone luck in French, check out this post on bonne chance vs bon courage.
List of expressions for saying goodbye in French
So now that you’ve seen how to say goodbye in French, let’s do a quick summary of the expressions we’ve covered in this post:
|À bientôt||See you soon|
|À demain||See you tomorrow|
|À lundi, À ce soir, etc||See you on Monday, See you tonight, etc|
|À la prochaine||See you next time, Until next time|
|À plus tard, À plus||See you later, Later|
|À tout à l’heure, À tout||See you later|
|Bonne journée, Bonne soirée||Have a good day, Have a good evening|
Conclusion: Goodbye in French
In this post, we’ve covered more than ten different ways to say goodbye in French. Each expression has its own nuances, so we discussed which expressions are more formal, more informal, or both. We’ve also examined the contexts for using each expression for goodbye in French, many of which depend on your plans to see the person again.
With all these options, you’re prepared to vary your vocabulary in conversations and choose between the French goodbye expressions that are best suited to your situation. Good luck, and à la prochaine!