What does Desu

“Otsukaresama” - Learn Japanese: The magic phrase for every situation!

“Otsukaresama” - one of those stupid, if literally translated, phrases that the Japanese use countless times every day. You hear it everywhere: stop job, at the phone, between friends and family members, as a greeting, after work (alone or together) and even as a goodbye. How magical! But what does it mean?

The Japanese Language: What is the Meaning of Otsukaresama?

The word “Otsukaresama” (お 疲 れ 様) or the verb “tsukareru” (疲 れ る) in its basic form mean something like “to be tired”. So “Otsukaresama desu” (present tense: お 疲 れ 様 で す) or “Otsukaresama deshita” (past tense: お 疲 れ 様 で し た) would mean: “You are tired.
But stop, how can “You are tired” be used as a greeting or in any of the other situations mentioned earlier?

The origin of Otsukaresama

First of all we have to get the basic idea of ​​the Japanese culture understand: always be grateful. As mentioned earlier, the Buddhist mindset Japanese culture as we know it today has had a strong impact. This can be seen in terms such as Itadakimasu ”and“ Gochisosama ”, before and after eating and in the original meaning of A.rigatou ”(i.e., "Be grateful for it, even if it was difficult"). In the same way of thinking, “You are tired” can be categorized as “You are tired because you worked hard, so thank you”.

Otsukaresama: How to Use This Phrase

In these contexts would “Otsukaresama” make more sense than a “hello”, “goodbye” and “thank you”, especially in workplaces where you will find this word used most frequently.

1. As a greeting

Colleagues say “Otsukaresama desu” to each other when they come to work, when they meet in the hallways, when they answer or end a phone call. The apparently general greeting takes on a greater meaning because you do the same Acknowledge the hard work of others.

2. In the workplace

At Japanese workplaces, the sentence “Otsukaresama desu” can be used for any reason during the working day, such as the beginning or the end of a conversation or a group task. For example, when you and a colleague are talking about a difficult task. Then when you say “Otsukaresama desu” it means that his or her time and efforts are recognized and valued (as part of the teamwork).

3. At the end of the day

Similarly, the phrase am End of a working day between colleagues used to to show mutual support. However, you have to be a little careful here: if you leave on time or earlier than your teammates it is not "wrong", but most Japanese workers tend to stay longer than it takes to show their enthusiasm for the job. In workplaces where the wind is a bit older, employees can be considered impolite if they leave the office before their boss or their supervisor.

Therefore, a well-intentioned “Otsukaresama desu” (i.e., present tense) may not be appreciated, especially by those who are still at work, or some may even take it as a kind of ridicule. This means that if you leave your job at the appropriate time, modern Japanese companies these days are more likely to "Osaki ni shitsurei-shimasu"(Sorry for leaving earlier today: お 先 に 失礼 し ま す) and in return you will"Otsukaresama deshita”(I.e., in the past tense) received as a reply.

“Otsukaresama deshita” is also called Japanese “cheers”Is used, especially among colleagues who go out together for an“ after-work beer ”.

More expressions after work is done

An alternative variant of “Otsukaresama” would be “Gokurosan”(ご 苦 労 さ ん) or also“Gokurosama”(ご 苦 労 様), which basically has the same meaning as our learned phrase. Depending on the context, “desu” or “deshita” can be added. Note, however, that “Gokurosama” is mostly used by seniors to refer to their subordinates, whereupon the latter should respond with “Otsukaresama desu / deshita”.

Thanks for reading to the end. Otsukaresama deshita!