173 - The Key to Using 気

気() is one of the most common and useful kanji in Japanese. On its own, it means “feeling” or “emotion,” and it is most often used in idioms and phrases that are related. You will see 気 come up in many different ways in Japanese, and sometimes it’s hard to keep track of all the different meanings these phrases can have. In this lesson, I want to go over the six most common phrases that use 気 and a little bit about how to use them.

気になる means “to be on one’s mind, to worry, to care about, to be bothered by.”

Telling someone you're not worried about something is:

I'm not worried about it. / I wouldn't worry about it.

Or you might receive a business email that says:

いか、 きになった てん。
Some of concerns are listed below.
Literally: “below + keep in mind + points”

If your husband hears a loud crash in the middle of the night, he might say:

となり の おと が きになる。
I am worried about the noise next door.
Literally: “next door + の + noise + が + worry”

And when he discovers the noise next door was just the neighbor's cat:

すこし きになりました。
I was a little worried.
Literally: “a little + worried”

It can even just have the nuance of being curious about something:

マリオ の かのじょ が どんな ひと か きになる!
I wonder what Mario's girlfriend is like.
Literally: "Mario + の + girlfriend + が + what kind of + person + か + (I'm) curious!"

気がする means “to have a certain mood or feeling, to have a hunch.” It can be used a bit like 考える(かんがえる)which means “to think.” However, 気がする is much softer than 考える.

When you want to tell someone you think you have a grasp of the concept you would say:

わかる きがします。
I think I might understand.
Literally: “understand + have a feeling”

If you get to your child's baseball game and the other team is made up of giant 4th graders with beards, you might say:

かてる きがする。
I think we can win.
Literally: “can win + feel”

If you are critiquing your language partner’s English sentence, you might say:

しぜんな きがします。
Seems natural.
Literally: “natural + な + feeling”

気をつける means “to be careful, to pay attention to.” I am sure you have heard or used the common phrase:

Watch out!

When your Japanese friend is helping you cook, he might say:

あつい から きをつけて ね。
Be careful, it's hot.
Literally: “hot + because + be careful + ね”

After your boss points out a mistake you made, you might say:

こんご きをつけます。
From now on, I will pay attention.
Literally: “from now on + pay attention”

If you are on a playground full of children running into each other, you can say:

Let’s be careful.
Literally: “let’s be careful”

When you are on the bus, you might see a sign that says:

あしもと に きをつけて ください。
Watch your step.
Literally: “step + に + watch out + please”

気に入る means “to be pleased with, to suit.” It is sometimes translated as “to like,” but it is not as strong as 好き(すき).

If you visit Japan, someone will inevitably ask you:

にほん は きにいった?
Do you like Japan?
Literally: “Japan + は + like”

If you hesitate or make a face when they ask you, they might say:

What, you don’t like it?
Literally: “what, + don't like?"
Note: I wouldn't recommend using this exact phrase... unless you're an older man in an anime or something. The speaker sounds a bit angry.

If someone is showing you a design you might say:

ひとめ で きにいった。
I liked it at a glance.
Literally: “at first glance + で + pleased with.”

When you visit a company and present one of your new products, they might tell you:

たいへん きにいりました。
We really like it.
Literally: “greatly + pleased”

気(が/は)ある means “to have an interest, to feel inclined toward.”

If your friend is setting up a tennis club, they might ask:

さんか する きはある の?
You interested in participating?
Literally: “participate + do + interested + の”
Note: The speaker sounds just a little angry.

If you're unemployed and have no interest in getting a job, you could say:

まったく はたらく きがありません。
I have no inclination to work.
Literally: “none + work + interest”

If you like a girl and you suspect that she's interested in you too, you might tell your friend:

かのじょ も おれ に きがある みたい。
I think she's into me, too.
Literally: “her + also + I + に + feel inclined + looks like.”

気が付く means “to notice, to become aware, to perceive, to realize.”

とちゅう で わすれもの に きがついた。
I realized that I'd forgotten something while on my way there.
Literally: “on the way + で + forgotten thing + に + noticed ”

If your friend is telling you about something that happened during the baseball game, but you were busy on your cell phone:

ぜんぜん きがつかなたった。
I didn’t notice it at all.
Literally: “at all + didn’t notice”

By the way, in casual conversation, 気が付く(きがつく)will often drop the が and become 気づく(きづく).
Notice the づ!!The meaning is the same.

Getting these 気 phrases mixed up is pretty easy, so practice them a lot to get the feel for each specific meaning. And when you are ready, there are hundreds of other 気 phrases and idioms to explore!

This lesson was written by Cassy L., a guest contributor:

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