Explain to me the difference between arrivederci and arrivederla?


Arrivederci and arrivederla...I know that many of you find that these two words cause a little bit of confusion. As always, let's break things up a little to make them more digestible.

This long words are actually made out of a few bits and pieces, each with a specific role.

A - ri - veder(e) - ci     /ar-ree-veh-dehr-chee/

A - ri - veder(e) - la    /ar-ree-veh-dehr-lah/

Literally, to-again-see-you, better translated with see you.

In a previous blog we learnt that ri- is something we use in Italian verbs to indicate that we are doing something again, we are repeating something. And of course let’s not forget that we need to pronounce it as /ree/. So you can see that -ri- in arrivederci/la.

Vedere means see, just like the English word video.

And now for the last component. Which one is it, arriveder-ci or arriveder-la?

First of all, they are both formal, so don't use them with your friends, as it would not make sense.

Arriveder-la is used to say goodbye to ONE person, someone we don't know well, such as a doctor, a director, a policeman.

This -la is the direct pronoun. I will see (what? whom?) You.


Arriveder-ci is when you are saying goodbye formally to ONE or MORE people.

This -ci is the reflexive pronoun, indicating (what? whom?) each other. "We will see each other soon". That is why it is ok to use arrivederci when you are saying goodbye to one or more people.

So after all that, if you are saying goodbye formally to ONE person, you can use either. If you are saying goodbye to MORE than one person you only have the arrivederci choice. If you find this confusing, pick arrivederci as it covers all your bases.

Your turn now: try these examples, remembering that some could have more than one option.

A. You have just shopped and are saying goodbye to the young shop assistant (a teenager) who today is in the shop helping out his dad. What do you choose - more than one is correct in some cases:

  1. Ciao
  2. Arrivederci
  3. Arrivederla

B. You have just asked for some information to a person in her fifties passing by. How do you say goodbye?

  1. Arrivederla
  2. Arrivederci
  3. Ciao

C. You are leaving your partner’s parents after a lovely dinner at their place. What do you say?

  1. Arrivederci
  2. Arrivederla
  3. Buongiorno

How did you go? The answers will be revealed in next week’s post. Stay tuned.

A presto.


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