Hokkien: How Do You Say “Goodbye”

by | Jan 16, 2019 | Hokkien, Hokkien - How Do You Say

Listen to Podcast | Hokkien: How Do You Say “Goodbye”

Psst… You can find our How Do You Say Podcasts on Spotify too! Head to Spotify – or search for on Spotify.

New Words

EnglishHokkienOur Romanization
Grandma / Female senior阿嬷Ah ma
Grandpa / Male senior阿公Ah gong
I’ll make a move first我先走/行了Wa seng zao / Gia liao
Goodbye / See you again再见Zai gian

Podcast Transcript | Hokkien: How Do You Say “Goodbye”

Bye bye, butterfly! See you later, alligator! How many ways of saying goodbye do you know in English? Well, did you know, we have a few ways to say goodbye in Hokkien too? 你好, 我的名是 Eugene and right now, we will learn some interesting ways of saying “Goodbye” with today’s Hokkien – How Do You Say Podcast on

Saying goodbye in Hokkien can be as simple as saying, “阿嬷 or 阿公, bye bye!” Yes, we can use the word, “bye”, as it is understood by most, if not all, Hokkien speakers in Singapore.

Often, you will hear local Hokkiens saying 我先走了, which means “I will make a move first”. The new word – 先 – means “first” or “in advance” but the most important word here is 走, which means “run” in Hokkien.

Now… why do we make a move by running and not walking?

Actually, to say goodbye in Hokkien, we can also say 我先行了, where 行 refers to “walk”.

And here’s a fun fact for you – did you know that when mentioning that someone had passed away, Hokkiens in Singapore tend to express the deceased as 先行了? Literally, this means – as compared to themselves (the survivors) – the deceased had first taken a step into the afterworld.

As such, to prevent any reference to death, many prefer to use 我先走了 instead of 我先行了. Of course, you can always say goodbye by saying 我先行了 and people would still understand. However, personally, I will make an attempt to stick to 我先走了, especially if festivals such as the Lunar New Year or the Hungry Ghost Festival is just around the corner. Seriously, I only want to run into the good stuff, wouldn’t you?

To our audience who are Mandarin educated and who are reading our Podcast transcript (oh yes, we do have a Podcast transcript available and you can always find it on our main website, or on our YouTube channel), you may find it confusing given that the written word in Hokkien to represent “run” is the same word as “walk” or 走 in Mandarin. There is no mistake here. This is because Hokkien is a dialect that adheres to Classical Chinese text (文言文) more closely than Mandarin. As such, Hokkiens use the Mandarin written characters, 走 for “run” and 行 for “walk”.

Now, the most formal way to say goodbye is to say 再见. This literally means “see you again” and is often heard in more formal settings or on TV or radio shows.

Summing up today’s podcast, these are the 3 ways to say goodbye:


我先行了; and


感谢你 for listening in to Hokkien – How Do You Say Podcast on Hope you now have a deeper understanding of saying goodbyes in Hokkien. If you have specific phrases that you’ll like to learn, please leave us a comment on our Facebook page. We want to know how we can help you! 再见!

Love what you are reading? We’ve got lots more to share during our Hokkien, Teochew and Cantonese express workshops. Join us to pick up words and phrases for everyday use in Singapore. More importantly, you can help to keep these languages alive!

Our Philosophy for Learning Hokkien in Singapore

The pronunciation of Hokkien words varies from one region to another. For example, Penang Hokkien sounds different from Taiwanese Hokkien. At, we want to make learning Hokkien fun, easy and practical for daily conversations in Singapore. As such, we think it is important to listen to how Singaporeans speak Hokkien. To do that, we have an ongoing process of collecting audio recordings from at least 100 Hokkien-speaking seniors in Singapore and thereafter based our audio pronunciation on the most commonly-heard version.

In similar nature, rather than trying to figure out which Hokkien romanization system to use (e.g. Pe̍h-ōe-jī or Taiwan Romanization System), we encourage you to form your own phonics, so that you make an association with these Hokkien words in the quickest way possible. To illustrate, the formal romanization of the English word, “eat”, is “chia̍h” in Hokkien. However, in our “Have You Eaten” podcast transcript, you’ll find that we use “jiak”, which we think relates to us better. That said, you may use other romanization (e.g “chiah”, “jia”, etc), as long as it helps you to make sense of what you hear.


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