Japanese

What is Japanese for “Take Care”? Learn This Common Phrase Now!

When it’s time to say goodbye to someone in Japanese, there are lots of ways to do it. But if you want to add a little warmth to your departure, you can tell them to “take care” as you wave good bye. What is Japanese for Take Care?

As it turns out, there are actually a few ways to say it. Let’s start with the most common one first and break it down to really understand it and lock it in.

After that, we’ll move on to one more way you can say it (this time when someone is sick) so you can switch between the two whenever it’s appropriate.

The Most Common Way to Say “Take Care” in Japanese:

  • Take care!
    気をつけて!
    ki o tsukete!

This is what you would say to someone as they depart your house to go back to their own home. It is also a pretty common thing to say to someone right before they leave to go on a trip somewhere or a vacation.

It can also be used to mean “be careful” as in “be careful on your travels” or something like that.

I’ve also heard it used at the end of speeches during some kind of initiation, like joining a school or an organization.

Sometimes this phrase will be spelled as 気を付けて with the kanji 付 instead of just the kana つ, but it still means the same thing so you don’t have to worry about it.

Looking at this set phrase a little deeper you can see that it uses the kanji for “spirit” 気 which is marked with the direct object particle を for the action verb of 付ける which means “to attach” to something.

So a literal translation might be more like you are telling someone to “attach your energy” as they depart and go on their way.

Although you will have noticed that 付ける is in the て-form in the phrase, which is pretty common when you are making requests with the word ください for “please” in Japanese.

  • Please, take care!
    気をつけてください!
    ki o tsukete kudasai!

That may have been a little deeper than you really needed to know in order to understand and use this phrase, but I thought it was interesting all the same.

Speaking of “energy,” you could also tell someone 元気でね (genki de ne) as an informal way to say “Stay well/Take care” to a friend or family member that you won’t see for a few days.

Anyway, let’s move on to the other way to say “take care” in Japanese that I mentioned at the beginning.

How Do You Say “Take Care” When the Other Person is Sick?

Sometimes you will be visiting someone in the hospital after they’ve had an operation, or even checking up on a friend who has been under the weather lately.

When you leave them, you want to encourage them to “get well soon” and another way to say that in English would be “take care of yourself” which is a pretty common thing to say.

For these types of situations, you won’t use 気をつけて or 元気でね. Instead you will use this phrase:

  • Take care (of yourself)!
    お大事に!
    o daiji ni!

When you look at the individual parts of this word you see that the お at the beginning is the honoroble-お that often gets added to nouns in order to make them more polite.

The word 大事 means “important” and from the context of the phrase we can take it to mean “the important things (in life)” which as we all learn sooner or later is one’s health.

Finally, it ends with the に particle which in this context means “to.”

So a literal translation of お大事に would be “to the important things” which in this case refers to your health.

So Take Care of Yourself, and Take Care on Your Journeys

Now you know both ways of saying “take care” in Japanese, and you even got a third bonus one (the genki one)!

These are two phrases that you will hear and read in Japanese quite often, so take a little time to commit them to memory.

And if you liked this type of post where I give a set phrase and then break it down word by word, then let me know with a comment below!

I’d love to hear from you guys! Thanks!

2 Comments

  • James Manson

    It is very interesting to see how much the Japanese language and writing systems differ from the English language. Like English, it seems there are various ways to say some of the same things but the context they are used makes all the difference.
    Learning a new language is something that I have always wanted to do so when I came across this page I had to check it out. Visiting Japan would be quite interesting and knowing even a portion of the language and how to use it would be helpful. I love the way you broke down the information so for someone like myself, who knows nothing about the language, can begin to understand it a little.
    Thanks,
    James

    • Nick Hoyt

      Yeah, the languages that are geographically close to one another seem to share lots of characteristics with one another, especially the written part. So languages in Europe look a lot alike, and then languages in Asia resemble each other too.

      But when you compare them the East to the West, they are completely different! 

      And it doesn’t seem to just stop at the written word. The way that people express the same ideas are also different between these two regions. That’s probably one of the reasons Asian languages are considered harder to learn from an English perspective.

      You can’t use what you already know as much as you could with a language like Spanish or Italian. 

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