I'm a non-native speaker. I'm having a problem with "take care" and "be careful". This problem comes from a text:

Jack: "I've got to go, Sarah. So long."
Sarah: "So long. Jack. And..."

A. be careful
B. don't hurry
C. take care
D. don't take it seriously.

I choose "be careful" but my teacher choose "take care" as the answer. Can someone explain this to me, please?

  • There are dozens of alternatives, depending on the circumstances. "Take care" is perhaps the most common, but you could say (if appropriate) "Drive safely", "Have a safe trip", "Be well", "Hey, be careful out there" (at tip of the hat to the old Hill Street Blues TV show), "Have a pleasant evening", "Be good (or if you can't be good, be careful)", "And may The Force be with you". And many more.
    – Hot Licks
    Jul 12, 2015 at 16:00

2 Answers 2


It depends on context, but 'take care' is a standard goodbye. Be careful would be appropriate if Jack was going to do something dangerous, and Sarah wanted him to stay safe. Take care technically means the same thing, but idiomatically is used as a way of saying goodbye.

  • If the question was # 2, as shown in this link, I'd say that it's only degrees better than #1, because "be careful" is a fairly common thing to say on parting, and so is not an unreasonable choice. Some people in some places are lucky to have teachers and materials that can help people learn anything at all, though. forum.englishtime.us/default.aspx?g=posts&m=36506 Jul 15, 2015 at 7:32

"Take care" is often said at the end of conversations and is very general; it does not necessarily convey worry.

On the other hand, if you conclude with "be careful," you are probably cautioning someone about something specific.

Some examples where "be careful" is appropriate:

  • Jack: "I've got to go to fight the dragon"; Sarah: "So long, Jack, and be careful!
  • Jack: "I'm going to go to the club now"; Sarah: "So long, Jack, and be careful not to wake me up when you return!"

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