In a drama, there is a goodbye scene and the dialogue between sister and brother like below.

sister: Thanks, Kevin... I guess it's that time.
brother: I'll see you, Sis. Don't get lost. (his sister is going to go to drive across the country, and they will not see each other for a long time)

What does "I'll see you" mean? Is it the same as "I'll miss you"?

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I agree with all the answers above.

To give a bit more emotional depth to the answer, to me (a native English speaker), reading the quoted drama, it sounds like the the brother is saying "I'll see you later" but knows that he won't. So he's saying it as a way of avoiding saying "goodbye" which sounds more final.

In that way, it's more sad than saying "I'll miss you" since it acknowledges that his parting will hurt them both, without saying it literally. All the sadness is in what they're NOT saying, not what they ARE saying.

It's interesting to note that in most other European languages, the word for goodbye can be literally translated as "until the next time we meet" (au revoir, auf wiedersehn) but in English our word has no such connotation.

(As an aside, the word "goodbye" evolved from the phrase "God be with you".)

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  • Since I do appreciate both answers: Ham and Bacon's and MT_Head's, and you agreed with these answers, so I accept your answer. Your examination of the "emotional depth" is also great. The actual scene was like you said, they both teared in their eyes. – czh Jul 13 '11 at 4:06

"I'll see you" is a shortening of "I'll see you later." It means that the brother will meet the sister later on, even if they are parting now.

It's not the same as "I'll miss you". Although they're both used to say goodbye, "I'll miss you" is more intimate, and has more affection and emotion in it. Say it, if this person is going to go away, and you really like this person, and you will "miss" him. (or her).

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  • Thanks for your enlightenment. I have another question. Does "I'll miss you" sound a bit sad than "I'll see you"? I'm not a native English speaker so I'm not sure about how do native speakers feel about these two phrases, but literally "I'll miss you" gives me a sense of it is emphasizing "we are parting", "I'll see you" sounds like "we'll see each other again". – czh Jul 12 '11 at 7:58
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    Yeah, it is a little sad. It's used because you're sad the person isn't going to be there with you. – Thursagen Jul 12 '11 at 8:00
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    Oddly enough "I'll see you later" is also used when the consequences of departure are most likely such that the two will never see each other again. Though "I'll miss you" is emotionally more appropriate, it is also tragic, and thus the euphamism "I'll see you" is used instead. – edA-qa mort-ora-y Jul 12 '11 at 8:33
  • And then there are ultimate parting phrases that convey dislike like "I'll see you in hell". Usually one or the other person is dying when something like this is uttered. The speaker is often either stating that his dislike of the other person transcends all time and space, or he's acknowledging wrongdoings of his own in an unrepentant manner. – John K Jul 12 '11 at 20:54

It's not at all the same as I'll miss you. In fact it's the kind of thing casual acquaintances might say - with no intention of seeing the other again.

This seems inappropriate for a brother and sister, but Kevin was probably trying to be stalwart and not give away his feelings.

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"I'll see you" and "I'll miss you" are not mutually exclusive - in fact, I've had a few conversations at the airport that went like this:
- "I'll see you." (Sometimes shortened to "See ya!")
- "I'll miss you!"
- "I'll miss you too (sniff!)"

However, although they're not exclusive, they're also not synonymous.
"I'll see you" can be said:

  • by casual acquaintances (who may or may not actually ever see each other again, and who may or may not actually care)
  • by good friends
  • by people who are, in fact, strongly attached to each other but are trying to act casual about a painful separation (I believe that this is the situation described in your scenario.)

I'll miss you applies - to varying degrees - to good friends, lovers, or family members. It implies a certain level of emotional vulnerability that some people are reluctant to reveal, which is why one might say "I'll see you" when "I miss you" would be far more honest.

For an interesting alternate take on "I'll see you", listen to "I'll Be Seeing You":

I'll be seeing you
In all the old familiar places
That my heart and mind embraces
All day through
I'll find you in the morning sun
And when the night is new
I'll be looking at the moon
But I'll be seeing you.

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