お疲れ様です [otsukaresamadesu], what does this mean?
When working in Japan, you will often and definitely will hear the phase “お疲れ様です” otsukaresamadesu.
Coworkers greet each other, thank another, and give their salutations with this phase. Although this is commonly heard at work it is not limited to be used for just work. So what does it mean? Take out the honorary prefix “o” and the honorific suffix “sama” you are left with “tsukare” which comes from the verb “疲れる” to become tired, so literally this means “[you are] tired”.
Of course the literal meaning is not why people say this to one another. Otsukaresama is a phrase used to thank someone or show appreciation for their work and/or help. It roughly translates to “thank you for your work” it also similar to the phase “good work”.
This can be said to someone who is carrying out their duties ie; you greet a coworker “お疲れ様です” who is still on duty. This phase is also used to thank someone who is carrying out a duty you have assigned to them ie; you ask someone to photocopy some documents, once they finished you thank them with “お疲れ様です”.
Forms of お疲れ様です
お疲れ様 otsukaresama is the basic form.
お疲れ様です addition of “~desu” is more formal and more appropriate for work.
お疲れ様でした addition of “~deshita” is to indicate pastence
お疲れ otsukare is a more casual than otsukaresama. お疲れ is more akin to “good work”/ “thanks [for your work]”