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It seems from my JLPT study books, and also my computer's IME, that 気{き}を遣{つか}う is the preferred kanji for "paying attention to, having concern for".

However, I noticed that on Space ALC if you look up 気{き}を遣{つか}う, it redirects you to 気{き}を使{つか}う, which, according to both it and Rikaichan, means the exact same thing.

Is there any difference? It seems 気{き}を遣{つか}う is more common, but can that be confirmed?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Generally people don't make a distinction, but technically, 使う and 遣う have slightly different nuances. 使う just means "to use" whereas the 漢字 for 遣う is also seen in 遣る(やる), like in words such as 思いやり. So, 気を使う is to use ones 気, (closer to "pay attention") and 気を遣う is more to "direct" ones 気 to somebody else (have concern for somebody). The reason 気を遣う is more common is because it emphasizes the act of having concern for others more.

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In goo, which uses source from "デジタル大辞泉", and dic.yahoo.co.jp, which uses sources from both 大辞泉 and 大辞林, only "気を遣う" is listed.

I guess that the "気を使う" is only an alternative form of "気を遣う", maybe because that it is more easy to write, or "使う" is used more often than "遣う" (or maybe only a common typo?).

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