I recently saw ご愁傷様です used to express condolences for a recent death. Is that something you'd also use in situations where a death happened some undetermined amount of time ago? Like for example if you're talking to your coworker and you ask something about their father and they say "oh he passed away 5 years ago."

In English it might be kinda weird to say "sorry for your loss" if you're referring to someone that died 5 years ago. You'd probably just say "sorry to hear that" or something similar instead. The fact that it's different in English makes me wonder if it's also expressed differently in Japanese.

1 Answer 1


I guess it depends, but using ご愁傷さまでした (in the past tense) would be possible.

As for your example, if you know the coworker well enough, then ご愁傷様でした is not that weird. But if you just know her/him recently, ご愁傷様でした is definitely odd.

In either case, it may be safer to use something like それは大変でしたね/だったね or to say something to the effect that you are sorry you didn't know.

ご愁傷さまです in the present tense sounds more normal when talking about a death of the near past, as you guess. But there is no clear limit on how near it should be.

Also note that the phrase can be used for teasing. (See #2.)

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .