Learn 10 Ways to Say Goodbye in Chinese2016-09-29 17:45:20Share:
1. 拜拜 (bài bài) Bye bye
The most common parting phrase you’ll come across is the transliteration of ‘bye’, 拜拜 (bài bài). It is an extremely casual phrase, but can be used amongst friends, colleagues and even shop assistants.
You may know that there are lots of homophones within the Chinese language, and 拜拜 (bài bài) can be written as ‘88’ because in Chinese the number 8 is pronounced bā (sounds a bit like bye ?). Another reason is that 88 also look like 白白, which are pronounced bái bái.
You can learn more about Chinese homophones in this article.
In many of the following farewell words and phrases, you will see a character repeated frequently. The character 再 (zài) means ‘again’. Originally, the 再 (zài) character represented the wheel that was turning ‘again and again’.
2. 再见 (zài jiàn) Goodbye
再见 (zài jiàn), is a more formal way to take leave, and I hear this much less frequently than 拜拜 (bài bài). It literally translates to ‘again to see’, and although 再见, is often taught as ‘goodbye’, it’s translation puts it closer to meaning ‘see you again’.
再会 (zài huì) Goodbye/Till we meet again
再会 (zài huì) is similar to 再见 (zài jiàn), but is often used in business situations. It also has a history of being used within ancient Chinese poetry.
3. 我走啦 (wǒ zǒu la) I’m going
我走啦 (wǒ zǒu la), is often shortened even further to just ‘走啦’ (zǒu la) and means ‘I’m going’. The personal pronoun of 我 (wǒ) – I/me can be removed in spoken Chinese, as it already implied that it is ‘I’ who is leaving. This phrase has a different context than to say goodbye, but is frequently used to anticipate leaving a place.
The particle, 啦 (la), is a contraction of the particles 了 (le) and 啊 (a). You can read more this in our blog post about sentence particles.
4. 我得走啦 (wǒ děi zǒu la) I have to go
This addition of the 得 (děi) character (not to be confused with the particle 得 (de), implies that the speaker must leave. This is a useful phrase to use if you have another engagement you need to be at.
5. 明天见 (míng tiān jiàn) See you tomorrow
Use this phrase if you’ve planned to see your friend the next day. You can also say 下次见 (xià cì jiàn), which means ‘see you next time’. This suggests you’ve not set a specific date to meet again and be used more freely.
6. 慢走 (màn zǒu) Take care
When you leave a taxi, a restaurant or even a shop, the taxi driver or waiting staff, will almost certainly use this phrase. We translate it to mean ‘take care’, but the literal translation is more like ‘slowly leave’ or ‘take your time’. Taking your time over things is certainly a cultural trait. It’s common to hear other similar phrases such as 慢慢吃 (màn màn chī), or take your time eating.
7. 有空再聊 (yǒu kòng zài liáo) Let’s talk again when you have time.
This phrase should be used between friends, but it’s also very natural. 有空 (yǒu kòng) means ‘to have time’ and 聊 (liáo) means to talk.
8. 下次再约 (xià cì zài yuē) Let’s do this again sometime.
Similarly to the previous phrase, 有空再聊 (yǒu kòng zài liáo), this is used between friends or acquaintances, to suggest a repeat meeting or party. The first two characters 下次 (xià cì) actually translates to mean ‘next time’. Another phrase that be used in a similar way is 有空再约 (yǒu kòng zài yuē) which means “Let‘s go out again when you have time.”
9. 下次再来玩 (xià cì zài lái wán) Come again next time
If you want to invite your friend to your home or business again, you can use this phrase. You will often hear and see the character 玩 (wán) being used when a Chinese friend or colleague asks you to do something with them. Since the word translates as ‘play’ in English, it may seem a little strange to have your grown up friend as you to ‘go out and play’, but this is just a way or suggesting whatever you will do together will be fun or amusing.
10. 有时间来玩 (yǒu shí jiān lái wán) Come back when you have time
This is another similar phrase, with the phrase ‘when you have time’ 有时间… (yǒu shí jiān) replacing the previous ‘next time’. You can replace 有时间… (yǒu shí jiān) with 有空 (yǒu kòng) to make 有空来玩 (yǒu kòng lái wán) to say ‘when you have free time come back again’. The character 空 (kòng) means ‘free time’, whereas 时间 (shí jiān) is a more general term for ‘time’.
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