Suppose I meet somebody on Monday morning; when I am departing, I say "See you later."

Does that mean I will see again that person during the day?
If that is what would be understood, what should I say when I am not sure when I am going to see again that person?


No, 'see you later' simply means at a time that is later than now.

You are more likely to use differentiation in the opposite situation, i.e. when you know you will be seeing someone at a certain time. In those instances you could use variants such as:

See you later this afternoon.
See you later tonight.

However, you wouldn't use this if the next time you were to see the other person is beyond today, so 'See you later tomorrow' or 'See you later next week' wouldn't work.

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  • I'd agree, but generally I'd expect "see you this afternoon" unless it was already the afternoon (eg "see you later this afternoon" may make sense if it's currently 1pm, and I expect to see you at 5pm) – Jon Story Dec 30 '15 at 17:05

No, it doesn't imply anything but "So long". It's just a standard formulaic valediction when departing, much as "Hi, how're you doing?", a standard formulaic salutation when first meeting, implies nothing but "Hello": it's not a real question.

OTOH, if you normally see the valedictorian later in the day most days, say, for coffee or lunch or dinner, then it might mean something specific to you, and if you won't be free, you probably will want to say something about that.

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  • I'm afraid I don't understand your second paragraph at all. What are you saying again? – Em1 Apr 5 '13 at 9:56
  • @Em1: "If you usually see the person who said 'See you later' [that's the "valedictorian"] later in the day, for coffee or lunch or dinner, then, 'See you later' might actually mean something for you and that person. Therefore, you will probably want to say something like 'I have to go to the dentist at noon, so I can't make it to lunch today' [or whatever]". Does this clear up the confusion? – user264 Apr 5 '13 at 10:04

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