Home Advice 12 Useful Ways to Say Goodbye in French for Any Situation

12 Useful Ways to Say Goodbye in French for Any Situation

by Gabe Wood
A woman waving goodbye to a man riding a motor scooter.

Once you’ve gotten French greetings and basic French phrases under your belt, it’s time to learn how to end your conversations on a high note with a proper goodbye. 

The French language has so many ways to say “bye,” as well as strict boundaries between formal and informal speech based on your relationship to who you’re talking to. It can be difficult to find the right words to use, so we’ve collected some useful goodbyes here that will help you leave a positive lasting impression.

Read on to see how you can bid someone farewell in French, along with descriptions of when you should use each word or phrase.

How to say goodbye in French

1. Au revoir

Au revoir is probably the most well-known way to say goodbye in French. It’s a general-purpose phrase, appropriate for both formal and informal interactions, though it may sound stiff if you use it with people you’re close with.

While au revoir is a solid way to say goodbye, it doesn’t literally translate to “goodbye.” Instead it means “until we see each other again.” Even if you don’t know for sure that you’ll see the other person again, though, you can still use this phrase.

2. Salut

Salut is an informal, casual way to say goodbye that’s perfect for friends and family. You can also use salut to say hello, making this a versatile French word.

3. Bonne journée / Bonne soirée

These mean “good day” and “good evening,” respectively. They’re common ways of saying goodbye, and work both formally and informally. To make these phrases especially polite, like when you’re leaving a shop or café, you can add merci et… (“thank you, and…) to the front. For example, merci et bonne journée, which roughly means “thank you and good day.”

Be aware that, while the French greeting bonjour also means “good day,” it is not interchangeable with bonne journée. Bonjour is strictly for hello and bonne journée is strictly for goodbye.

4. À bientôt

À bientôt is a phrase you can use with people you know you’re going to encounter again in the near future. An English equivalent would be “see you soon.” This phrase is slightly informal, so you can use it with acquaintances or colleagues you’re friendly with, but you probably shouldn’t use it with your boss.

5. À tout à l’heure

If you’re sure you will see someone again later that same day, à tout à l’heure can be a good option. It’s suitable for both formal and informal situations, but to make it more casual you can shorten it to its slang version à toute.

6. À plus tard

This has a similar meaning to à tout à l’heure, but it’s more informal and trendy. You can also abbreviate this to just à plus, and in casual texts or emails you can write it as A+.

7. À tout de suite

If you’re familiar with the English phrase “toot sweet” (meaning “right away”), that comes from à tout de suite. Fitting to its English offshoot, this phrase means something like “see you very soon.” 

You would use this phrase when you’re about to see someone immediately after your conversation, like if you were on the phone with them just before meeting in person. It’s acceptable for formal and informal conversations.

8. À demain

Saying à demain is similar to saying “see you tomorrow” in English. As you can probably guess, you should use it when you know you’re going to see someone the next day. It works both formally and informally.

9. À la prochaine

À la prochaine means something like “until next time,” and it can be used formally and informally. If you want to tell someone that you’ll see them again, but you don’t know when that will be, you can use this phrase.

10. Je m’en vais

When you’re about to leave and you want to let people know that you’re going to go, use je m’en vais. It means “I’m leaving” and is a bit informal, so avoid using it with authority figures or in highly formal situations.

11. Ciao

Ciao is an Italian word in origin, but you’ll also hear people in France use it. It’s a casual goodbye, similar to salut. Italians will use ciao to mean both hello and goodbye, but in French it’s only used as a goodbye.

12. Adieu

While many English speakers are familiar with adieu as a way to say goodbye, this is a French word that you should use carefully. It means “until God,” and it carries a sense of finality. You would use it to say goodbye to someone you’re sure you will never see again, like a person you’re ending a relationship with or a family member who’s dying. 

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