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

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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
say

“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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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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