Germans often say goodbye to me in English by saying “Have a nice time!”, but I’ve never heard this from a native speaker. So what exactly is wrong with saying “Have a nice time!”?

In German, “Schöne Zeit!” (literally: “Nice time!”) is a common farewell phrase. In my experience, as Germans are familiar with the famous English phrase “Have a nice day!”, they therefore naturally believe it’s OK to use “Have a nice time!” when saying goodbye in English.

But, because “Have a nice time!” is probably best translated as “Viel Spaß dabei!” or “Genieß es!”, it doesn’t really work as a way to say goodbye if it’s not clear exactly what you’re telling them to enjoy. There are lots of nice things in life: holidays, evenings out at the cinema, or a cup of coffee and a chat with a neighbour. If someone tells you they’re going to do one of these things, or something similar, feel free to say “Have a nice time!”

Otherwise, don’t use it.

There are lots of perfectly good expressions that begin with “Have a nice…” that you could use instead. Here are a few:

  • Have a nice day!
  • Have a nice afternoon!
  • Have a nice evening!
  • Have a nice weekend!

Finding a friendly way to say goodbye to your friends, colleagues or business contacts is definitely a good idea. Suitable examples include “See you!” and “Bye!” (≈”Tschüss!”) or “Take care!” (≈”Mach’s gut!”)

How do you say goodbye? Let me know at philmarlowenglish@gmail.com if you’re not sure if what you’re using is OK.

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