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What’s the difference between bye, buy and by?

Bye, by and buy sound the same but are spelled differently, which means that learners of English (and even some native speakers!) make mistakes when using them in writing.

The three words have separate meanings and separate grammatical functions, so learning the difference is easy.

Read on to learn how to use bye, by and buy correctly, then test out your knowledge in the free exercises.


Bye is short for goodbye. Use it to acknowledge someone leaving or the end of a conversation.

Bye, Susi. See you next week!


By is a preposition:

  • use it to show who created something
I’m reading a book by James Joyce.
  • use by to introduce the subject (the person who performs the action) in a passive phrase
The house was bought by a family friend.
  • use it to show how something is done
I contacted him by email.


Buy is a verb meaning the exchange of money for goods.

They buy fresh bread every morning.