Hi everyone!! !ochame!
First, do you know what today is? Yes, it’s August 5th, but do you remember what day that is? Yes, that’s right! It’s our anniversary. I started making lessons here two years ago! I am just amazed at how many wonderful people I’ve met through this site.
Thank you so much for all your support!
OK, let’s get to today’s lesson. Today’s lesson is about first-person singular pronoun. I received this lesson request about a year ago. I did make a lesson half-way and left it for a long time. Here’s the question/request.
“I tend to wanna default to 僕, even though I’ve only recently started my Japanese study and should probably get myself in the habit of 私 before I start getting casual about things, but I was just curious about the usage of 自分. It seems pretty common, but how does its usage differ from the basic 私、僕、or 俺?”
This is a good opportunity to learn the first person pronouns for those who have just started to learn Japanese.
The first person pronouns :
Before I start this lesson, let me clarify one thing. We often skip subjects in Japanese. So a lot of times, you might get to confused in conversations. But eventually you will get used to it.
Now as all of you know, the most common first person pronoun is 私 ( = watashi).
=Watashi wa Maggie desu.
=I am Maggie.
Note : This is the most common first person pronoun and is used in written for by both for men and women. But generally speaking, in conversation, while women use it all the time to indicate themselves both among friends or in formal situations, men tend to use it only when they talk to superiors or in formal situations.
It is rare for men to call themselves 私 ( = watashi ) when they are with their friends or family. It sounds a bit too formal.
(But of course, there are exceptions.)
わたくし= “watakushi”. This is the most formal one. We use the same kanji, 私.
=Wataskushi wa Maggie to moushimasu. (very formal)
=I am Maggie.
Note :We also often omit the particle (は = wa) when we speak.
アタシ（ or あたし）=atashi : Very casual. Not that common but it is used by young girls (very casual and it may sound a little shallow or childish.)
One’s first name or first name with ちゃん = chan (= girls / sometimes boys) or 君 = kun (→boys)
Children often call themselves with their first name or their first name with ちゃん= chan
= Maggie tottemo ureshii!
=I, Maggie, am very happy!
= Kore Maggie-chan no!
= This is mine (Maggie’s) !
Not just children but some young girls also have the habit of calling themselves by their own first name when they talk with their family or friends.
= Maggie ikitaku nai!
= I (Maggie) don’t want to go!
Now if you are a boy, you can use
僕 ( = boku)
= Boku wa Cookie desu.
= I am Cookie.
Note : Adults talk to a child with 僕 ( = boku) (with boys) or 私 ( = watashi) (with girls) instead of using their name or “you”.
= Boku ikutsu ni naruno?(talking to a boy)
= How old are you, kid?
= Watasih onamae wa?(talking to a girl )
= What’s your name, little girl?
Which one to use, 私 ( = watashi) or 僕 ( = boku) at work?
Although it is a pretty common first person pronoun for men, for some Japanese, 僕 ( = boku) sounds very casual and childish. But we do hear adults, even people from the older generation using this pronoun often.
A little while ago there was an interesting TV program where they discussed which they should use, 私 ( = watashi), or 僕 ( = boku) at work.
Even a famous news caster chose 僕 ( = boku) to talk to the guests on his show or when he speaks to the TV staff.
But I would say you can use 僕 ( = boku) at work but avoid using it in a very formal situation, like in business meetings with other companies, official letters, etc.
If you are a man and show yourself a bit more wild or tough, you can use
俺 ( = ore)
=Kyō orenchi kuru?
=You wanna come over my house today?
(Note : んち ( = nchi) is a casual way to say の家 ( = no uchi)
Ex. わたしんち ( = watashinchi) = 私の家 (= watashi no uchi) my house
= Ore kyō okane nainda.
= I don’t have money today.
Which one to use, 僕 ( = boku) or 俺 ( = ore) ?
If you are a man and speak Japanese, eventually you have to chose which one 俺 ( = ore) or 僕 ( = boku) you would use when you are around your friends. As I mentioned above, 俺 ( = ore) generally sounds a bit blunt and “macho”. They use it with someone very close to them such as their family, or friends. Avoid using it with someone superior. On the other hand, 僕 ( = boku) gives a softer or more friendly impression than 俺 ( = ore) .
ワシ／わし = washi : This is a sort of fun one.
It is used when an aged man talks about themselves.
Personally I rarely hear someone actually using this in real life but this is a stereotypical first pronoun for a (stubborn) old man so that you will see/hear this a lot when an old man appears in books, comic books, animations or movies.
= Konna mono washi wa iranzo!
= I don’t need such a thing!
Now back to the question, when we use 自分 ( = jibun) and what the difference between this and other pronouns.
自分 ( = jibun) means “(one)self” It is reflexive pronoun but they are different from English one.
There are cases we use it as the first pronouns.
= Watashi wa sou omoimasen.
= I don’t think so.
= Jibun wa sou wa omoi masen.
= I don’t think so.
Ex. 散歩? 私はしないけどマギーは？
= Sanpo? Watashi wa shinaikedo Maggie wa?
= Going for a walk? I don’t do that but how about you, Maggie?
= Sanpo? Jibun wa shinaikedo Maggie wa?
= Going for a walk? I don’t do that, but how about you, Maggie?
There are people who call themselves 自分 ( = jibun), but it sounds a little more distant than the other pronouns. It sounds like one is drawing a line between themselves and the listener.
Also sometimes it sounds more rigid because it is a typical soldiers’ type of speech.
= Jibun wa Nagoya ni sunde orimasu.
= I live in Nagoya.
Note : In 関西 = Kansai area, west part of Japan, people use it as the second pronoun, “you”.
= Jibun dokokara kitano?
= Where are you from?
= Jibun wa karee suki?
= Do you like curry?
= Jibun wa dou omouno?
= What do you think about it?
!ochame! I had an interesting experience a long time ago while talking to a 関西人 ( = kansaijin)Kansai person. He kept asking questions saying 自分 ( = jibun). And at first I got really confused and wondered why he was asking about “himself” so much.
However, we do use 自分 ( = jibun) as the second pronoun when we emphasize “yourself” or “yourselves”
Ex. そんなの自分 (←あなた)が悪いんじゃない！
= Sonnano jibun( ←anata) ga waruin janai!
= It’s your (own) fault!
= Ima isogashii kara jibun de (←anata ga) yatte!
= I am busy right now so do it yourself!
!lotsofhearts! More examples : (As I warned you in the beginning of this lesson, a lot of the sentences below don’t have a subject but unless it is a question or a command or a suggestion for other people, the speaker should be the subject.)
1) 自分の = jibun no =one’s
• 私の家 = watashi no ie
means my house.
If you say
• 自分の家 = jibun no ie
it means one’s own house. It could be your house or someone else’s house.
= Jibun no ie de kutsurogu no ga ichiban iidesho.
= Relaxing at your own house is the best, isn’t it?
= Jibun no koto wa jibun de yatte.
= Do your things yourself.
When to use:
When you refer yourself (or others) objectively:
= Jibun de jibun wo homete agetai
= I would like to praise myself. (This is a famous quote by Japanese marathon runner, Yuko Arimori)
= Jibun(←watashi) wa kirawarete iruto omou.
=I think people don’t like me.
= Jibun ga nani wo shitai no ka wakaranai
= I don’t know what I want to do
= Jibun (←watashi) wa koko ni ite ii nokanatte omou koto ga aru.
= There are moments when I wonder if it is OK for me to be here.
= Doushiyou kato mayou jibun(←watashi) ga kokoni iru.
= Here is myself, wondering what to do here. (literal)
= Jibun wo taiestsu ni shitai.
= I want to take care of myself.
= Jibun ga yaritai koto wo yarinasai.
= Do what you want to do.
= Hontou no jibun ga wakaranai
= I don’t know who I am. (I don’t know my true self.)
= Jibun ga modokashii
=I get frustrated myself.
= Jibun ga doredake kare no koto wo aishite ita ka kizukanakatta.
= I didn’t know how much I loved him.
When you emphasize just “oneself“:
= Jibuntach（tachi) bakari oishi mono wo tabete zurui!
= It is not fair for you to eat something yummy (without me!)
Note : 自分達 ( = jibuntachi ) plural form of 自分 ( = jibun), (more casual)
= Jibun ga yaritai to omowanakereba nanimo hajimarimasen.
= Unless you (yourself) want to do it, nothing will start.
= Ano hito wa jibun ga kawaii dake nannda.
= That person(he/she) only care about themselves.
= Jibun ga tabetai mono wo tsukuru
= I cook what I want to eat.
= Kinjyo no hito niwa jibun kara koe wo kakemashou
= Say hello to neighbors from you (your side).
By oneself, one-selves alone, for oneself : 一人で ( = hitori de)
= Sonna koto jibun de yarinasai!
= Do that thing (<– minor thing) yourself.
= Jibun de kangaenasai.
= Figure it out yourself.
= Jibuntachi no (←watashitachi no) chikara de ganbaru
= To try to do the best by themselves.
= Jibun de yareru kara shinpai shinaide.
= I can do it alone so don’t worry.
= Ryouri gurai jibun de dekimasu.
= (It’s just cooking!) I can cook myself.
= Jibu no （←watashi no) kotoba de tsutaetai
= I want to say it with my own words.
as reflexive pronoun:
When you refer to yourself, we also say
自分自身 = jibun jishinn = myself
pronoun + 自身 ( = jishin) → oneself
•私自身 = watashi jishin = myself
•あなた自身 = anata jishin = yourself
•彼自身 = kare jishin = himself
•彼女自身 = kanojo jishin = herself
•マギー自身 = Maggie jishin = her (Maggie) self
= Anata jishin no mondai desu.
= That’s your own problem.
If you say,
= Sore wa jibun jishin no mondai desu.
= That’s your own problem.
The target can be anybody. It can refer to him, her, you, me….anybody.
I will make a lesson on how to address other people sometime!
(Sept. 5th) As I promised, I made the lesson. Check Is it OK to use あなた(=anata) + 2nd-pronouns + nicknames lesson.)
= Watashi wa naniga attemo jibun no koto ga tottemo suki desu.
= I love myself no matter what.