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So I've been digging around some more and found this image from a PDF here. Basically, it said that the Imperative form (such as 見ろ{みろ} or 飛べ{とべ}) is usually considered ruder than the ~て form (such as 見て{みて} or 飛{と}んで). Does anyone know why?

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    There are facets to how Japanese conjugations are used that are difficult to convey well in English. One thing we do in English to soften a command is to add verbiage to it: "would you look over there?" comes across as much softer than just "look!" Even in English, the bare imperative can come across as rude. – Eiríkr Útlendi Aug 17 '16 at 4:09
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    I'm not sure if I get your issue. Probably Japanese culture from ancient times to the present just need such gradient of telling someone to do something. This issue belongs to group of Why do some languages have grammatical gender?, Why must some African language sentence have direction(north, east, south, west) in itself?, Why do some dialects have many type of snow(from like water to powder)?, Why are there three women's honorific Ms, Miss, and Mrs in contrast with men's?. No one knows why. Environment including society that we cannot control well does. – ryo Aug 17 '16 at 9:56
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Japanese uses honorifics that English doesn't. For example, there are different suffixes, particles, endings that you should use when you say to your friends (or juniors), seniors and very high officials. They are very complicated and not easy to master.

The imperative forms such as [見]{み}ろ is not considered rude when you use them to your friends or juniors. But you can never say it to your elders or seniors unless you want to offend them intentionally. That's the way the Japanese language works.

'~ください' is a polite way to make requests for example, "[見]{み}てください." You can omit 'ください' as in "[見]{み}て." in casual speech which sounds less polite.

You can also use "[見]{み}てくれ." when you want to sound commanding and manly.

As commented by @Eirikr Utlendi, you can consider "[見]{み}ろ." as the bare imperative in English which doesn't sound polite.

You can visit the linked Making Requests at www.guidetojapanese.org and read more about it.

  • for even higher level of honorific, people use ご覧ください – kurakura88 Aug 17 '16 at 9:45
  • Is that really the feeling that using ~てくれ gives? To me, it seemed more like a casual/informal way of making a request, like a less polite version of ください. – Kurausukun Aug 18 '16 at 4:19
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We have been taught that the imperative form is considered rude unless saying it in a joking matter to one’s friends or when commanding those younger than you

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