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What is the difference between 気{き}をつけて, お大事{だいじ}に and お元気{げんき}で.

How and in which context(s) are they used?

  • 3
    @truc. i don't know if this is true 100% of the time but i was told by a japanese person that it would be more correct to end a post like this with よろしくお願いしますrather than どうもありがとうございます. just my two cents – yadokari May 16 '12 at 3:23
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I normally say 気をつけて when I part from someone going/traveling somewhere or going home, お大事に to someone sick/ill/injured etc., and お元気で when I part from someone who's older/superior to me, like my senpai, teacher, professor, boss... お元気で sounds more polite than 元気でね so I'd say 元気でね to my friends/coworkers/family/relatives.

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  • 気をつけて: "take care", "be careful" (is more generic than the other ones, for example it can be used in 足元に気をつけて "watch your step")
  • お大事に: "get well soon" (often said to people recovering from illness etc, literally something like "treat (yourself) with value/respect/care")
  • お元気で: "be well/healthy", "all the best", "take care of yourself"
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お元気で could be paraphrased as

これからもずっと元気であるように

お元気で would be used when you won't see someone for a while and you are basically saying "stay healthy".

気をつけて could be paraphrased as

注意をするように

気をつけて is used when seeing someone off, in other words, you know the person is from this point on is going on a trip overseas, or is going to get in their car and drive home. It implies the idea of "be careful on your trip (or when driving home)".

So to distinguish the two, if you are not sure what the person is going to be doing from the point you part ways, お元気で would be more appropriate.

お元気に as Chocolate mentions is not used by itself like that. However, you could see it in phrases like 早くお元気になってください or お元気になさっていますか.

  • よく分かりました! 教えてくれて、どうもありがとうございました。 So in this case, I should say "お元気で". – Teruko May 16 '12 at 5:50
  • @TrucAudreyTeruko: Yes. – Jesse Good May 16 '12 at 5:50
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お元気で/[達者]{たっしゃ}で is used when you won't meet the person for a long time. You don't say it friday night if you meet them next week. You say it when someone is leaving for long terms.

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