Common Mistakes: Be careful! when you use “ki o tsukete”


Ki o tsukete!

“Be careful”

Today I would like to introduce a common misunderstanding in Japanese.

A few days ago, an American friend of mine came to see me at my house.
When she was leaving, she said to me:

「気をつけて」(Ki o tsukete; be careful)
This is a common mistaken usage of these words in Japanese.

In Japanese, people leaving on a trip are often told “ki o tsukete,”
as in “O-ki o tsukete, itterasshai”(お気をつけて、いってらっしゃい).

In short, it is a phrase which signifies that one is praying for the safe trip of another.
As such, it is a phrase that only the person watching someone else go is able to use.
The person leaving cannot say it to the person staying behind.

Originally, “ki o tsukeru” (気をつける) means “to be careful.”

For example, mothers say “ki o tsukete ne” to their children when they are using
scissors, and when one is walking on a steep mountain path, someone else might

“you could slip easily, ki o tsukete ne.”

When you use “ki o tsukete,” please remember to “ki o tsukete,” OK?


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Author of this article

Iidabashi Japanese Language School

The Iidabashi Japanese Language School motto is "Be Unique, Have fun Globally!" We teach classes focused on conversation skills to foreigners living in Japan.

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