Learn a Word: お疲れ様です [Otsukaresamadesu]

Be it the language that shapes the culture or the culture that forms the word, learn about Japanese culture through keywords used in everyday speech. One Japanese word that stands out as an important part of Japanese culture is otsukaresamadesu. This Japanese word can be used in a variety of situations in Japan between friends, family, colleagues, and just about anybody! The next time you are in Japan, try to use this Japanese word to impress your friends and build relationships in Japan.

How to Use the Japanese Word “Otsukaresamadesu”

First let’s break down the Japanese word “otsukaresamadesu” to see how it is used. Here is the basic meaning of the Japanese word “otsukaresamadesu”, but it can have a variety of different meanings depending on the situation.

お疲れさまです

  • Pronounced: O tsukare sama desu
  • Format: honorific prefix + verb + honorific suffix + desu
  • Meaning: Literally, “it has been tiring on you”, or “you are tired”, conveying your respect for the person’s hard work
Learn a Word: お疲れ様です [Otsukaresamadesu]

Why Do Japanese People Say Otsukaresamadesu So Much?

This is said at to colleagues or friends before parting, and implies appreciation and acknowledgement that “It’s been tough/tiring on you, thank you”. There isn’t an 8-syllable phrase in English that conveys the same meaning in such situations. “Bye, see you tomorrow!” doesn’t come close, while making an effort to say “Thanks for today!” would sound weird if you’re seeing the same person for the rest of the working week. “Otsukaremadesu” makes you feel you deserve that after work beer. In fact, “otsukaresamadesu” also said in place of “kampai” (cheers) in such sessions.

What Is the Difference Between Otsukaresamadesu & Gokurosamadesu?

Both convey an appreciation for hard work done, but gokurosamadesu is mainly used by people who are more senior. For example, a boss may say “gokurosamadesu” to their employees. However, you should not use “gokurosamadesu” this to your boss, teacher, or someone higher than you in the chain of command!

When speaking with friends in a casual way, you can simply say “otsukare”. It is much shorter and casually used between friends as a greeting, farewell, cheers before a drink, and its main purpose for after work.

What is the Context of the Japanese Word Otsukaresamadesu?

Japanese is a very contextual language. Otsukaresama is a versatile word that can be used in place of the usual Good Morning or Good Afternoon or Welcome Back From A Hard Day Of Sales Pitching. As you can see, this Japanese word can be used in a variety of contexts to mean many different things. As an example, here are a few situations in which the Japanese word “otsuakresamadesu” can be used.

This is what “otsukaresamadesu can mean in various situations:

  • When you email colleagues = How are you
  • When someone completes a big project = Thank you for your hard work
  • When you are passing by in the office = How are you
  • When someone resigns = Thank you for working with us

And “otsukaresamadesu” for reading this! Now you know a useful Japanese word that you can easily say the next time you are in Japan.

Original article published: March 15, 2018

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