25 Ways You Can Use Japanese Ki to Express Abstract Ideas

Wish you could express abstract ideas and emotions in Japanese?

Let’s talk ki!

The Japanese ki is going to rock your conversational world.

We won’t get drawn into the more complex concepts of energies and spirituality which are connected with this tiny Japanese word. Historically, ki has been very difficult to define, and I’m not an authority by any means.

What we will talk about is how you can understand and use ki to convey your hard-to-describe thoughts, feelings and experiences as they relate to each other.

All in typical Japanese minimalist fashion.

Where Have I Heard Ki in Japanese Before?

Oh, come on now, you’ve heard this before!

Super Common Japanese Ki Words

You’ve seen (き – ki) crop up in a number of newbie Japanese words:

  • 元気 (げんき) – happy, energetic
  • 病気 (びょうき) – illness
  • 天気 (てんき) – weather
  • 気持ち (きもち) – feelings

A dictionary will give you a smorgasbord of definitions, including “spirit/mind/heart,” one’s “nature,” “mood,” “intention,” “essence” or “air/atmosphere.” All of these encompassing concepts of that indescribable energy you feel in and around you fit into the neat little package of .

And you can barely describe anything that you think or feel without it!

Everywhere in Martial Arts


Martial arts uses this concept of the awareness of “universal energy” to understand and connect the mind with the body while practicing. Some even believe that the focus of this energy can knock people over.

But I’ll let you be the judge of that.

Healing and Spiritual Practices

You might have heard of the term 霊気 (れいき – reikibefore. It’s one of those things that you might not completely buy into, but you secretly believe there’s a “life energy” to everything. (All right, so we’ll talk about energy a little.)

This is a kind of healing technique that consists of placing hands on the body and healing a spirit or soul by way of a spiritual energy being channeled through the “healer.”

It might be useful to know that (れい) means a soul or spirit, and this is half of the word 幽霊 (ゆうれい – ghost)—which is probably where you’ll see this kanji most often!

25 Key Phrases to Master Your Japanese Ki

Ready to unleash your energy into your Japanese conversations? Here are 25 of the most common phrases using 気—try using the example sentences as frameworks and create your own!

気 as Adjectives Using の

1. 気のせい (きのせい)

Literal meaning: The fault of ki
English meaning: It’s just (my/your) imagination

今なんか聞いた?気のせいかも知れないけど。(いま なんか きいた?きの せい かも しれないけど。)
Did you hear something just now? Might just be my imagination…

2. 気の毒 (きのどく)

Literal meaning: Poison of ki
English meaning: Something is unfortunate

こんな状況になって気の毒ですね。(こんな じょうきょう になって きのどくですね。)
It’s unfortunate that it came to this.

3. 〜気のない (きのない)

Literal meaning: To have no ki
English meaning: Someone who’s indifferent, half-hearted

あんなやる気のない人とは仕事できない。(あんな やるきのない ひと とは しごとできない。)
I can’t work with someone as half-hearted as him.

When Something Happens to Your 気

4. 気に入る・気に入らない (きにいる・きにいらない)

Literal meaning: To go into one’s ki, to not go into one’s ki
English meaning: To take a liking to something, to dislike something on a visceral level

聞けば聞くほど、そのバンドのことを結構気に入った。(きけば きくほど、そのばんどの ことをけっこう きにいった。)
The more I listen to this band the more I’ve taken a liking to them.

5. 気になる (きになる)

Literal meaning: To become one’s ki
English meaning: To be bothered by thinking about something, to be thinking about something

あんなことを聞いて、私ももちろん気になるよ。(あんなことをきいて、わたしも もちろん きになるよ。)
Hearing about that I’d also definitely be concerned.

6. 気にする (きにする)

Literal meaning: To have something done to one’s ki
English meaning: To be deeply troubled over something

人の言ってることを気にしない方がいいよ。 (ひとの いってることをきに しない ほうが いいよ。)
You shouldn’t worry about the things people say.

7. 気にかける (きにかける)

Literal meaning: To hang on one’s ki
English meaning: To be worried/concerned about something

気にかけてくれて、本当にありがとうございます。もう大丈夫です。 (きに かけてくれて、ほんとうに ありがとうございます。もう だいじょうぶ です。)
Thank you so much for worrying about me. I’m fine now.

8. 気に触る (きにさわる)

Literal meaning: One’s ki is touched
English meaning: To get on one’s nerves

また何か気に触ることを言ったのか。(また なにか きに さわることをいったのか。)
You said something that got on his nerves again, didn’t you?


When You Do Something with Your 気

9. 気を付ける (きをつける)

Literal meaning: Apply your ki
English meaning: Be careful/take care (while doing something)

おやすみなさい!気を付けて帰ってね! (おやすみなさい!きを つけて かえってね!)
Goodnight! Be careful getting home, okay!

10. 気を使う (きをつかう)

Literal meaning: Use your ki
English meaning: To take into consideration someone’s feelings

私、結構年下だから、気を使わないでいいよ!(わたし、けっこう としした だから、きをつかわないで いいよ!)
I’m quite a bit younger than you, you don’t need to put on airs around me!

11. 気を悪くする (きをわるくする)

Literal meaning: To make ki bad
English meaning: To feel hurt by something

部長はこれを見たら気を悪くするんじゃない? (ぶちょうは これをみたら きをわるく するんじゃない?)
If the chief saw this he wouldn’t feel great, would he?

12. 気を許す (きをゆるす)

Literal meaning: To let go of one’s ki
English meaning: To let one’s guard down

すごく悪い人だった。やっぱり、気を許さない方が良かった。(すごく わるい ひと だった。やっぱり、きをゆるさない ほうが よかった。)
He was a really bad guy. I shouldn’t have let my guard down after all.

13. 気を散らす (きをちらす)

Literal meaning: To have one’s ki scattered
English meaning: To be distracted

クリスが話しかけてくれた時、気を散らすことができたのでほっとした。(くりすが はなしかけてくれた とき、きをちらすことが できたので ほっとした。)
When Chris started talking to me, I was relieved to have something to distract me.

14. 気を取られる (きをとられる)

Literal meaning: To have one’s ki taken up
English meaning: To be preoccupied with something

本に気を取られている間に、時間がどこかに消えてしまったみたいだった。(ほんに きをとられている あいだに、じかんが どこかに きえてしまった みたいだった。)
While I was immersed in my book time seemed to disappear somehow.

15. 気を静める (きをしずめる)

Literal meaning: To sink one’s ki
English meaning: To compose oneself

悩みがある時に、この店でお茶を飲んで気を静めます。(なやみが あるときに、このみせでおちゃをのんで きをしずめます。)
When I’m worrying over something I come to this shop, drink tea and compose myself.

16. 気を配る (きをくばる)

Literal meaning: To pass around one’s ki
English meaning: To pay attention/take care about something

食事は楽しみであるが、その反面、体調管理にも気を配っている。(しょくじは たのしみ であるが、その はんめん、たいちょう かんり にも きをくばっている。)
I enjoy my food, but on the other hand, I take care to manage my health.

When Your 気 Does Something

17. 気が早い (きがはやい)

Literal meaning: One’s ki is fast
English meaning: To do something prematurely

彼は赤の他人なのに、もうプレセントあげるの?ちょっと気が早いんじゃない? (かれは あかのたにん なのに、もう ぷれぜんと あげるの?ちょっと きが はやいんじゃない?)
You bought him a present even though he’s just a stranger? A little fast, no?

18. 気が合う (きがあう)

Literal meaning: One’s ki is met
English meaning: To be interested in/hit it off with someone (romantically)

もともと話の合わなそうな人だと思っていたが、たちまち気が合ってしまった。(もともと はなしの あわなそうな ひとだと おもっていたが、たちまち きが あってしまった。)
From the beginning I thought he would be someone I’d fight with, but we hit it off immediately.

19. 気が済む (きがすむ)

Literal meaning: One’s ki ends
English meaning: To be satisfied with something

お互いの気が済むまで、言いたいことを言うつもりでいる。(おたがいの きが すむまで、いいたいことをいう つもりで いる。)
Until we’re both satisfied, we should both say all the things we want to say.

20. 気が向く (きがむく)

Literal meaning: One’s ki tends towards something
English meaning: To feel like doing something

バイバイ!気が向いたら連絡してね! (ばいばい!きが むいたら れんらくしてね!)
See you later! Call me if you feel like it!

21. 気が進まない (きがすすまない)

Literal meaning: One’s ki does not progress
English meaning: To be reluctant to, unwilling

その時から、私はもう昼間外へ出るのはあまり気が進まなくなった。(そのときから、わたしは もう ひるま そとへ でるのは あまり きが すすまなくなった。)
Ever since then I’ve been reluctant to go outside during the daytime.

22. 気が変わる (きがかわる)

Literal meaning: One’s ki changes
English meaning: To change one’s mind

男の人は気が変わるもんだよね。(おとこの ひとは きが かわるもん だよね。)
Men are ones to change their minds, aren’t they?

23. 気が散る (きがちる)

Literal meaning: One’s ki scatters
English meaning: To get distracted

悪いけど、ちょっとあっちに行って来る。ここだと気が散るから。(わるいけど、ちょっと あっちに いってくる。ここだと きが ちるから。)
Sorry, but I’m going to go over there for a bit, I’m distracted here.

24. 気が引ける (きがひける)

Literal meaning: One’s ki retreats/pulls back
English meaning: To feel awkward, shy doing something

こんな格好で出かけるのは気が引けるね。(こんな かっこうで でかけるのは きが ひけるね。)
I feel a little shy to go outside in this outfit.

25. 〜気がする (〜きがする)

Literal meaning: One’s ki does something
English meaning: To have a feeling that something is a certain way

レストランはこっちの方にある気がする。(れすとらんは こっちの ほうに ある きが する。)
I feel like the restaurant is this way.

How to Find More Japanese Ki

Love these phrases? Wish you had more? We won’t leave you hanging. Here are some excellent resources where you can learn more ki phrases and start learning them once and for all.

  • imiwa? — This app (for iPhone) has a character search function, where you can search words, phrases and idioms just by inputting the kanji for 気. It’s a goldmine for example sentences.
  • FluentU  Immerse yourself in all the real-life situations where you could use your 気. Hear the word spoken aloud by native Japanese speakers, see it in numerous video clips from across the site, practice it in multimedia flashcards and fun exercises, learn it in the context of diverse phrases and sentences. You’ll never forget after you’ve learned it with FluentU.


Now bring a little spirit to your conversations!

なんか役に立つ気がする!(なんか やくに たつ きが する!- I feel like it’ll come in handy!)

And One More Thing…

Want more cool, useful Japanese lessons like this? Then I should also tell you about FluentU.

FluentU takes real-world videos like music videos, commercials, news, and inspiring talks and turns them into Japanese learning experiences. It naturally and gradually eases you into learning Japanese language and culture. You’ll learn real Japanese as it’s spoken in real life.

FluentU has a broad range of contemporary videos—like music videos, dramas, TV shows, and TV commercials:

Learn Japanese with Anime on FluentU

FluentU makes these native Japanese videos approachable through interactive transcripts. Tap on any word to look it up instantly.

Learn Japanese with Anime via FluentU

All definitions have multiple examples, and they’re written for Japanese learners like you. Tap to add words you’d like to review to a vocab list.

Learn Japanese Through Anime on FluentU

And FluentU has a learn mode which turns every video into a language learning lesson. You can always swipe left or right to see more examples.

Learn Japanese with Videos on FluentU

The best part? FluentU keeps track of your vocabulary, and it suggests content and examples based on your vocabulary. You’ll have a 100% personalized experience. 

The FluentU app is now available for iPhone, and it’s also available as a website that you can use with your computer or tablet. If you’re an Android user, fear not, for our Android app is in the works!

If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Japanese with real-world videos.

Experience Japanese immersion online!

Comments are closed.