Saying goodbye is not always easy, and if you like do it in Dutch, then the challenge can be even harder…. When you leave, then there are so many things that you could say in Dutch and…. even if you already think that you know how to do it, chances are high that somehow you have been making some little mistakes… So if you like to know for sure that you leave the right way in Dutch, then make sure that you read the following hints 🙂
It is one of the first things that you learn if you want to speak a new language. How to greet people and then – certainly if your Dutch is not that brilliant yet – how to say goodbye! Therefore you may have the idea that you got it all covered, but… contrary to what you may think, saying goodbye in Dutch has more different aspects than you think. There are many things that you can say when you are leaving and the meaning of each word is somehow a bit different… So let’s explore all the possibilities!
Tot ziens! means literally until seeings and it is something that you can always use. It sounds a bit formal though and it is the perfect thing to say, certainly when you are in a formal situation. Let’s say that you just had your first job interview in Dutch, then it is great to use…
By the way, did you know that there are also other versions? Tot horens (until hearings) is something that you can say on the phone and yes, this sounds formal as well. But… a funny expressions is also tot mails! (until mailing again). This one is not formal at all and sounds quite funny to Dutch ears and if you use it then Dutch people will be impressed by your high command of the Dutch language!
Are you always happy to leave? Or does it somehow stir up some emotions?
Tot kijk! is a very inofficial way of saying goodbye. Kijken in Dutch is to look or to watch, so also here the suggestion is that probably you will see each other again. The only thing is that somehow it seems that you assume that you’ll see the other person again, but that you do not know how. You can leave it to luck or synchronicity… Chances are simply high that if you walk around, you’ll somehow bump into each other again….
Tot is a great word to use
By the way, tot is a great word to have in your vocabulary. It simply means until, so now you can make any combination that you like. You can say: tot later (until later), tot morgen (until tomorrow), tot overmorgen (until the day after tomorrow), tot 2030 or tot nooit meer! (until never ever again!)
There are also many people that love to use tot straks, which also means until later, but… you have to be careful here… Straks means within a very short time, or shortly. If you leave your office at 5, then make sure that you do not say: tot straks! People might expect you to return within a couple of hours, so if you like to leave your work with the intention that you’ll only come back tomorrow, then make sure that you make it clear…. Don’t say tot straks, but tot morgen instead!
Dag means day in Dutch and you can use it for saying hello and for saying goodbye. Dag is really multifunctional! You may note that the pronunciation may change from time to time. You can say it with a short a-sound but you may also hear: daaaaaaaag! The a-sound then lasts a lot longer and seems to have a certain melody. If you like, you can compose your own song by simply use the word dag and if you pay attention, you’ll hear that Duth people can be quite creative!
Doeg or doei!
The ultra informal version of dag is also doeg or doei! It can be an affectionate way to say goodbye, certainly to people that you already know! Make sure that you do understand that these words are not really good in formal situations, certainly if you meet people for the first time. When not appropriate, it could ruin your reputation, so do not say doeg or doei after your first job interview 🙂
You may also hear that the words doeg! and doei! can be pronounced in a short way or very long… Variations like doeg doeg and doei doei are very frequent and you may even hear dikke doei! Be careful with dikke doei, because it takes some skill for you to know when you can use it or not… If however you can use it at the right moment in the right setting, then Dutch people will be impressed by your impeccable Dutch language skills…
There are many ways to say goodbye in Dutch! How you feel while saying goodbye is also important…
Vaarwel looks like farewel, but… the meaning is a bit different. Literally it means sail well, and it means that you will never see each other again! It is something that many Dutch people would like to say to their schoonmoeder (mother in law), or that annoying boss…
Vaarwel can be an expression of sadness… Imagine that you lived in 1700 and that you had to tell your mum that you wanted to so sail to another continent… At that time it often meant a definitive goodbye. Also during funerals it is what people say to the person that has passed away.
Once again, make sure that you understand that with vaarwel, you will never see the person again. It is far more radical than in English. For example, if you have a farewell party, then chances are still there that you’ll meet some people again, but in Dutch meeting again is really out of the question!
Ik zie je!
Ik zie je is a subtle way to express that now it must be sure that you will see a person again… Imagine that a friend just promised you to help you to move house… then ik zie je is a great way to remind your friend that he or she really needs to show up!
Ik ben zo terug!
Sometimes you can also leave for a very short moment. Maybe you need to go to the bath room or you need to get some money first. If your absence will only last a couple of minutes, then ik ben zo terug is extremely useful. Another great thing to say is: tot zo!
Mazzel has nothing to do with mazelen (measles), but it is a positive word that means good luck! It is a word that Dutch people indirectly took from Hebrew and they seem to like it! It is very informal and you can certainly use it when you bump into someone on the street, just by chance… You chat for some minutes and then continue to move on. Then de mazzel is a great thing to say. Another useful sentence is de mazzel verder (for the rest)
Last but not least
Can you see? There are many ways to say goodbye in Dutch, and of course, there are always more ways to do it! Did you discover something new here? Please share it with us!
Mohammadon 16 May 2019
Samon 19 May 2021
Albert Bothon 19 May 2021