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Most of the time, I use to say "お疲れ様です" while someone else leaving the office. But many of my colleagues say "お疲れ様でした". Does it have any difference?

Also, I want to know, can we use "お疲れ様です" while working in the office to any super senior person like CEO of the company and etc..

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The difference is small, but お疲れさまです is a generic greeting used in business settings, whereas お疲れさまでした explicitly states someone's work is over for today. In everyday exchanges, whichever is fine, but お疲れ様です may sound relatively a little bit more friendly/casual, and お疲れさまでした may sound a little bit more polite/formal. If you want to clearly express a feeling of appreciation after someone finished a difficult job (i.e., "thank you, well done"), お疲れ様でした is always better.

You can usually safely use お疲れ様です to someone who is much higher than you (although there may be a better phrase, like よろしくお願いします/ありがとうございました if it's a visit for 視察).

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  • what about the other forms of the phrase, where do they fit in? I can see why my answer would get zero upvotes, maybe, but I don't think it deserved 3 downvotes. – ericfromabeno Jul 14 '18 at 23:07
  • ^ what about the other forms... -- 参考になりましたら・・・ japanese.stackexchange.com/q/1158/9831japanese.stackexchange.com/q/18425/9831 – Chocolate Jul 16 '18 at 4:47
  • thank you @Chocolate, that link was helpful. I think the schools that I work at have a much different sense of formality than a typical Japanese office, so I hear these words often, and mixed... Which makes it hard for me to remember that some are too casual in a normal work environment. :( The school setup in Japan is unusual... a person who was a teacher one year might work at the city hall the next year, and a vice principals and principals even shuffle around to higher or lower positions from year to year... That doesn't happen in America... – ericfromabeno Jul 16 '18 at 7:55
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I have heard several levels of formality of this phrase, said to me when I'm leaving my schools, and said to other people who leave before me, as well:

お疲れ

お疲れさん

お疲れ様

お疲れ様です

お疲れ様でした

Be careful with the first two forms in the list, as they are more informal, and should only be used with colleagues you feel close to, or people below you in the pecking order where you work.

Aside from the levels of politeness, there is little difference between these. The difference between です form and でした is basically just verb tense differentiation:

お疲れ様です = thanks for working hard (today)
お疲れ様でした = thanks for all the hard work you did (today)

and yes, you can say お疲れ様 to your superiors as they leave for the day.

One difference between the two is that お疲れ様でした is said to people who are leaving, by people who are still working, and it conveys a slight sense of envy because the speaker still has work to do.

*edit: I don't understand the downvotes, if it's my "ing" vs "ed" interpretation, is there a better way to parse the difference?

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