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So, I know that お前 nowadays is used as a rude way of saying "you". However, during one of my readings, I came across a strange use of お前 which, from the context, won't really make any sense if it was meant to be rude.

Basically, this is a "noblewoman" talking to her servants : she used お前たち although she spoke with them in a rather friendly way, always using polite forms such as ~です or ~ます.

Could I have more information about this お前 ?

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    Can you provide more context? Maybe post a short passage from which the quote is taken?
    – kandyman
    Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 12:05
  • Are you asking if there was such a usage or if there is such a usage available in regular speech now?
    – virmaior
    Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 12:15

2 Answers 2

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No, it can't. お前 is a rude way of saying "you", even if she always uses polite forms such as ~です or ~ます. Probably she didn't use the word except to her servants , right?

The author may want to contrast polite forms with a rude way of speaking and expect that the readers will be a bit surprised to hear it just like you were.

Addition: お前 was used as a respect way of saying "you" till about 400 years ago, but it doesn't be used like that now. This is the source. http://gogen-allguide.com/o/omae.html

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  • でも、何か質問者はこのふう(detail.chiebukuro.yahoo.co.jp/qa/question_detail/q1075957545)の時代劇の使い方について、聞かれていることではないか。
    – virmaior
    Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 13:44
  • Thank you for your teaching and correction. I added the information. Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 14:09
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    古語を持ち出さなくても、部下や仲間に対して「お前たちは下がっていなさい!私が参ります!」「お前たちも苦労しているのですね…」といった喋り方をする高貴な女性は普通にいると思います。少なくともフィクションでは。
    – naruto
    Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 1:23
  • Yes, I imagined that. I imagined impertinent young madams in fiction. Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 4:11
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お前 is clearly rude only when its used to address your boss, a stranger, etc. It's a very common friendly second-person pronoun among close friends, especially young male friends.

Being able to use お前 is often the sign of friendliness, frankness or a good vertical relationship. There is nothing wrong if you used お前 to your children, servant, etc., although it sounds more or less "bossy" or paternalistic. I imagine how this noblewoman can feel at ease with the servants.

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  • For example Lunafreya from FFXV may as well address her people with お前たち while sticking to ~です/~ます style at the same time. (although my memory is already vague)
    – naruto
    Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 3:39

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