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Is just さようなら acceptable as a 'goodbye' in 敬語, or is there a more formal version?

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3 Answers 3

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さようなら is used mainly by school children, but adults use this less commonly in everyday conversations. Here's the list of possible expressions:

  • お疲【つか】れ様【さま】です : Typically used after work. This is only polite enough to say goodbye to your colleagues. Don't say this to important external guests.
  • (お先【さき】に)失礼【しつれい】します: Typically used when leaving (and entering) an office, conference room, etc. You can use 失礼します (without お先に) at the end of a phone conversation.
  • (お先に)失礼いたします : Even more polite one with a humble form.
  • ごきげんよう : Very polite greeting, which is described elsewhere. It's unlikely that you hear this in a business setting.

And there are shortened forms: 「お疲れ!」「お先に!」 These are no longer considered as "polite", but are very frequently used, instead of さようなら, among colleagues who know well each other.

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  • These are not really 敬語.
    – Rilakkuma
    Commented Aug 14, 2014 at 6:06
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    @Rilakkuma 敬語 includes 丁寧語 too. Commented Aug 14, 2014 at 6:44
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You can always say 失礼します say goodbye or to excuse yourself (lit. "I'm being rude (by leaving))". This is probably the most common. There is also 失敬します, but I've heard this is rather old-man-ish and haven't heard anyone use in normal conversation.

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If you're not in a work environment, maybe you could use それでは

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    EVERYONE uses それでは in work settings.
    – user4032
    Commented Aug 17, 2014 at 9:19
  • I didn't mean you can't use soredewa in a work setting (I've heard it with my ears, thanks). It's just that most of what was already been told was (almost) just for working settings (like osaki ni and otsukaresama), while a very basic greetings like soredewa (which NO ONE has said) had been left out. ...and now readers will think of soredewa as uncorrect, because of this downvotes. You should try to suggest to edit, sometimes. Commented Aug 23, 2014 at 17:48

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