8 Tips about the Useful Japanese Phrase “Otsukare sama desu”

8 Tips about the Useful Japanese Phrase Otsukare sama desu

Anyone who knows the Japanese will be aware of how much we pride ourselves on a diligent work ethic. For the student of Japanese language, therefore, especially those living and working in Japan, learning useful Japanese phrases for the workplace will be important. Probably one of the most ‘overworked’ Japanese expressions in any context is otsukare-sama, so let’s consider how it is used.



 

8 Tips about the Useful Japanese Phrase “Otsukare sama desu”

 

1. Overview

Otsukare-sama is used to show appreciation or praise for effort or hard work, or for continued commitment to a task, and, as such, has uses outside the workplace too. It is most often heard at the end of the day when people are leaving work, but if you have done a job for a neighbor or friend, they may thank you with otsukare-sama. It is, therefore, a very useful Japanese phrase to know.

 

2. Desu or Deshita?

The first thing students of Japanese learn are phrases ending in desu, which is often compared to the English verb ‘to be’. Deshita is the past tense form and, because it is more usual to acknowledge effort after the fact, it is natural to say “otsukare-sama deshita” in most cases. Certainly, you will not hear it at the beginning of the working day, unless you are taking over from a night shift, but you will hear “otsukare-sama desu” when people’s continuing efforts are being recognized.

 

3. Leaving Work

When your day’s work is finished and you announce you are leaving for home, your boss and colleagues who are still working will acknowledge you with “otsukare-sama deshita.” Literally, this means something like ‘well done’ but is, in effect, a simple farewell. However, from your perspective, your boss and colleagues are continuing to work, so your reply “otsukare-sama desu” reflects this fact.

 

4. Coming and Going

But “otsukare-sama deshita” is not limited to the day’s end. It is also used to greet colleagues returning from business trips or meeting clients, whilst their reply “otsukare-sama desu” could be taken to mean ‘thanks for holding down the fort while I was away’!

 

5. After Meetings

Japanese companies and their various departments seem to have an interminable number of often quite insufferable meetings just for the sake of it. It is perhaps understandable, therefore, that staff who attended will seemingly console each other afterwards with “otsukare-sama”!

 

6. Special Projects

Project workers will use “otsukare-sama” in the same way as they come and go, and those who are temporary staff, or seconded from other departments, where they may still be expected to fulfill their usual duties, will deserve an even more emphatic “otsukare-sama deshita” for their efforts.

 

7. The Boss Level

It is not common to wish the boss “otsukare-sama deshita” as he or she is typically the last person to leave work. Nor is it usual for staff to greet the boss on his return from a business trip or meeting in such a way, especially if they were slacking off in his or her absence. And woe betide the staff who do not receive an “otsukare-sama deshita” from their boss at the end of the day – they must be guilty of some lack of effort!

 

8. Second Chances

But we are all only human and, hopefully, the mistakes we make today can be put right tomorrow. A good boss will know this, and if he or she wants to show continued faith in your ability to do better, they may tell you “otsukare-sama ashita mo ganbarou ne!” or ‘let’s do better tomorrow!’

 

Conclusion

As you can see, “otsukare-sama” is a very useful Japanese phrase for anyone working in Japan, though its uses do not end there. You can use it outside the workplace with friends and fellow working people as a general greeting when beginning or ending conversations, where it is not necessarily meant as a thank you for a favor. Be aware of the way your Japanese friends and colleagues use “otsukare-sama” and ask them why they use it.

 

8 Tips about the Useful Japanese Phrase “Otsukare sama desu”

1. Overview
2. Desu or Deshita?
3. Leaving Work
4. Coming and Going
5. After Meetings
6. Special Projects
7. The Boss Level
8. Second Chances