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Both words mean she, but what's the difference, how should I use them?

  • 10
    Can you explain where you learned that あれ means 'she'? Perhaps you looked at a bilingual dictionary entry like this one? – snailcar Nov 23 '15 at 1:44
  • The difference is one will get you slapped in the face or given a stern talking to and the other one means she. You should always use 彼女 if these two are your only choice. – The Wandering Coder Nov 24 '15 at 2:18
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あれ does not technically mean she.

There is a very peculiar way of informal communication that allows あれ to stand in for basically anything. If you can't recall the right word, or you don't feel like saying it explicitly, or you are pretty sure the other person will understand in context, you can fall back to ridiculous sentences like:

  • ちょっと、あれあれしてくるね
    I'll just go [verb] the [noun].
  • そういう言い方はあれだと思う
    That's a [negative adjective] way of putting it.
  • あれやっておいた?
    Did you do [task]?

It is only in this roundabout way that some men sometimes refer to their significant others as あれ. Often it seems to be that they are not comfortable saying the word 彼女/妻/嫁 etc. out loud, especially in front of their buddies.

  • あれがうるさいから飲みに行けない
    I can't join you for drinks because my [wife/girlfriend] is nagging.
  • あれとはもう10年になります
    We've been together for ten years now.

So to answer your question “How should I use them?”, I suggest that you not refer to fellow humans as あれ.

  • I was watching an old movie, 永遠の人, and in some part they used a lot あれ while talkingof a girl. – Jaime Nov 24 '15 at 3:54
  • @Jaime Yes, that seems possible. Hopefully it doesn't happen so much nowadays. – mirka Nov 24 '15 at 12:16
  • So, in the past they used to use it more often than nowdays? – Jaime Nov 24 '15 at 14:58
  • @Jaime Are you sure you didn't hear 姉{あね}? I haven't actually seen the movie so I am not really sure of the context of the conversation. Could you maybe post a few lines in your question? – The Wandering Coder Nov 25 '15 at 1:10
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No, あれ means basically "That".

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