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I'm (trying) to read a Japanese spy novel at the moment. It could just be the author's style, but I see lots of sentences end in 〜気配がする。

The more I read, the more I wonder - is there any difference between this and 気がする?

一人で公園のベンチで本を読んだら、隣にだれか座ってきた気配がする。

一人で公園のベンチで本を読んだら、隣にだれか座ってきた気がする。

The above example is mine, but it was the context of the book (I am too lazy to go find the page now).

A cursory look in the dictionary tells me that 気配 is more like "sense" whereas the latter may be more like "feeling" - anyone care to help?

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To me 気配 feels a lot more like "faint physical evidence." "There were hints of someone sitting next to me" rather than "I had a feeling that someone was sitting next to me." –  Amanda S Jun 12 '11 at 5:07
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3 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

気配 is defined in 大辞泉 as something which is "not clearly seen, but vaguely sensed." It is used to describe an indication or hint of something outside the person who senses it, and shows up in more patterns than just 気配がする:

人の気配を感じた。 I felt the presence of someone.

秋の気配がする。 The first signs of autumn appear.

You cannot replace 気配 with 気 in the above examples.

気がする, on the other hand, always refers to the subject's intuition or suspicions:

どこかで会ったような気がする。 I have a vague feeling we met somewhere.

前にこんなことがあった気がする。 I feel like something like this happened before.

これから始まるという気がする。 I have a hunch things are going to start now.

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Derek, wow, thanks! Great answer! –  makdad Jun 12 '11 at 23:36
    
so is it true that for 気がする the doubt is greater than 気配がする, since 気配がする has more evidence and is more than just the "feeling" ? –  Pacerier Jun 15 '11 at 3:21
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@Pacerier: I think it's more a matter of objectivity versus subjectivity. With 気配がする, the indications you pick up on are often based on observable events. To use the park bench example, perhaps you felt the bench move or heard it make a sound as someone sat down next to you. These events could be sensed by anyone else in your position. But 気がする is all about your personal, unique, subjective intuition. A different person in the same situation might not have the same intuition, because 気がする talks about how your mind uniquely reacts to a given set of circumstances. –  Derek Schaab Jun 15 '11 at 12:40
    
thx clear explanation =D –  Pacerier Jun 16 '11 at 15:08
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気配 => indication, sign, tendence ; quotation (esp. stock market) 気がする => To have a certain mood or feeling, to have a hunch.

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Do you really think that the meaning “quotation in the stock market” of 気配 has anything to do with this question? It is not very useful to copy dictionary definitions without considering their applicability. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Jun 12 '11 at 19:35
    
I just gave all the definitions, and I think it is very easy to conclude what the difference of meaning is :) –  Rolf Jun 13 '11 at 4:48
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I've always understood 気配to be "presence/aura" and きがする as feeling/hunch like other people have pointed out.

so like in your examples

気配がする = I was reading a book on a bench in the park when i felt the presence of some sitting next me

気がする = I was reading a book on a bench in the park when i got the feeling someone was sitting next to me.

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