Greetings and goodbyes have always been key to any conversation, mainly because these simple phrases and body gestures can transmit various messages and information about who we are and how we like to communicate with others.
In this post, we’ll introduce you to so many more possibilities to say bye in Spanish beyond the humble adiós, with explanations about when various alternatives would be the right option. A lot has to do with context, familiarity, offering some wish to the future, or time of day. And of course there are regional differences too. Let’s get started!
The Basic Spanish Bye: Adiós, Chao
The word adiós is probably the best known word for saying goodbye in Spanish. However, many natives find it too formal and definite, so the other common alternative that native Spanish speakers use is chao.
As you may have guessed, chao comes from the Italian word “ciao,” so we could even say that this farewell embraces different cultures. Chao is used in many countries, adapted into several other languages.
To Say Goodbye: Despedirse
Now let’s talk about the action of saying goodbye in Spanish. We use the reflexive verb despedirse, which translates into English as to say goodbye or to part ways.
As for the noun of a goodbye or a farewell, the Spanish equivalent is la despedida.
Las despedidas can be very informal, funny, and even slang. They can also come with gestures, physical expressions, and all sorts of phrases. Though of course, the best choice will depend on the level of familiarity you have with the others, the country you are in, and whether formal language is required or not.
Before we get into any more words and expressions, let’s just mention some of the cultural habits which go along with bidding someone farewell in Spanish. You’ll surely be familiar with many of them.
- Handshake. This gesture is universal, and you can really never go wrong with it. In Spanish, this action is called dar la mano (literally, to give a hand) or un apretón de mano (a hand squeeze).
- Hugs. Los abrazos are a very affectionate way to say goodbye. Compared with its ubiquity in the United States, however, in Latin American cultures we shouldn’t take for granted that the other person is necessarily comfortable with a hug if you’re not already close.
- High five. ¡Chócala! is a fun way to part ways, mainly used with kids or after a conversation or encounter where you’re building camaraderie. To ask someone to give me a high five! in Spanish you can say ¡vengo esos cinco! or ¡choca los cinco!
- Besitos. Depending on the country, some people may say goodbye with one or two light kisses on the cheeks. We call these little kisses besitos, which is also a word used to say bye in Spanish in a phone call or an informal email.
During covid times, societies adopted other less-close ways of saying goodbye in person. What do you think of these ones?
- Puñitos. This is the now-ubiquitous fist bump in Spanish. It’s a friendly yet distant way to part. Many people also opt for this alternative because of how hip it looks.
- Elbow tap. El choque de codos is fast and keeps substantial space between the two people involved.
- Wave. Saludar con la mano is a reliable classic hand gesture, and is universal. You can’t really go wrong with a smile and a wave: saludar con la mano y sonreír.
Until… Goodbyes: Hasta…
We all know that sometimes goodbyes can be sad, whereas we’d rather remind each other of the next time we’ll get to spend more time together. For these situations, we have the hasta… phrases. Hasta translates directly as until, so we can use it whenever we want to let the other know that we’ll keep in touch (sooner or later). Just like until… phrases in English, hasta… phrases can also be used to confirm the moment of the next conversation or meeting that you’ll have with that person.
- Until later. – Hasta luego.
- Until soon. – Hasta pronto.
- Until tomorrow. – Hasta mañana.
- Until Tuesday. – Hasta el martes.
- Until next time. – Hasta la próxima.
- Until next week. – Hasta la próxima semana.
As you can see, these hasta… phrases are very flexible. You can modify them with whatever timeframe you need.
Casual Goodbyes in Spanish
When you know a person well, there are plenty of casual alternatives to adiós and chao. Some are pretty standard, a couple are endearing, while others are downright playful.
These are the most common informal expressions used among friends and family.
- See you. – Nos vemos.
- See you around. – Nos vemos por ahí.
- Take care. – Cuídate.
- Have a nice day. – Ten un lindo día.
- Behave yourself! – ¡Pórtate bien!
- I’m out. – Me fui.
In a casual context, it is also prevalent to catch the English word bye. It is used the same in all Spanish-speaking countries, and sometimes even bye-bye is heard in conversations.
Among close friends, you can play with the standard chau to make it sound more endearing. These expressions, particularly popular among teenagers, don’t really have straight equivalents in English, though you surely understand them!
Funny slang expressions for goodbye
When it comes to slang, we’ll find different phrases depending on the country. Let’s take a look at a few amusing ones here.
Hasta la vista. Yes, this one is very well known, but we don’t encourage its use unless you feel like the Terminator!
Ahí la Bimbo. This Mexican expression for see you there literally means there the Bimbo. Don’t take it literally though! It’s derived from a play on words on the phrase ahí nos vimos: we’ll see each other there. This playful expression refers to Bimbo, which is a very common brand of bread.
Nos vimos en Disney. This is another funny and very informal one, very trendy among teens in Argentina. The literal translation is we saw each other at Disney.
Nos pillamos. Popular in Colombia, this expression translates literally as we catch each other.
Pura vida. You can think of this Costa Rican expression as an equivalent to aloha!, which can be used to say both hello and goodbye. It translates literally as pure life.
Rude goodbye in Spanish
If you want to be rude, all you have to do is not say goodbye.
Manners are a significant thing in Spanish-speaking countries. Since goodbye expressions are so short and concise, whether your farewell sounds rude or not depends on the tone of your voice and the body language you project when speaking.
If you want to be intentionally rude when you say goodbye in Spanish, you can create a good hasta… phrase from our earlier lesson:
- Until never! – ¡Hasta nunca!
Formal Goodbyes in Spanish
For formal contexts like businesses or offices, all the hasta… expressions we learned earlier are entirely valid. There are also a handful of other polite ways to say farewell that are perfect between people who don’t necessarily know each other:
- Good afternoon. – Buenas tardes.
- Good night. – Buenas noches.
- Hope to see you soon. – Espero verlo pronto.
- May you be well. – Que esté bien.
- A pleasure. – Un placer.
Written Goodbyes in Spanish
Typically, written goodbyes require a certain level of formality. When we sign off a letter or an email, there are a number of specific phrases which you wouldn’t otherwise hear in spoken Spanish:
- Sincerely. – Atentamente.
- Cordially. – Cordialmente.
- Best regards. – Saludos cordiales.
- Greetings. – Saludos.
- I remain attentive. – Quedo al pendiente.
- I look forward to hearing from you. – Espero su respuesta.
- Thanks for everything. – Gracias por todo.
- Wish you the best. – Le deseo lo mejor.
- Keep in touch. – Seguimos en contacto.
Other less formal written goodbyes are reserved for when people are already close:
- Hugs and kisses. – Besos y abrazos.
- Yours affectionately. – Afectuosamente.
- With love. – Con amor.
- With love. – Con cariño.
Now you know a whole bunch of ways to say bye in Spanish! Keep in mind that you can play around with these expressions, and of course don’t forget to respect the level of formality depending on who you’re talking to.
With a smile and a bit of wit, we hope you’ll go ahead and use some new phrases the next time you say goodbye to your Spanish-speaking friends!
¡Hasta la próxima!