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Japanese Lesson 21: Jibun

OK this is a tough one. Jibun is sort of a blanket word. It means "itself", "myself", "yourself", "himself", "herself", 'themselves" and any other -selves you can think of (probably).

Not only that... but Jibun in conjunction with "no" 「の」 means "its own", "my own", "your own", "his own", "her own", "their own" etc.

The general rule (I've found... please please please correct me if I'm wrong) is that if you've got a sentence that doubles up on a pronoun:

"She... her....." (EG: She has her -whatever-)

"I ... my...." (EG: I have my -whatever-)

"He ... his....." (EG: He has his ....)

"Animal ... its....." (EG: The animal eats its food)

you trade out that second pronoun for "Jibun".

That makes sense right?

So when you find two pronouns together in a sentence, and they're both talking about the same person/animal trade the second one out for "Jibun"

This works for specifically named animals too. For instance...

"Cat ... Its...." (EG: The cat eats its food.)

"Dog ... its..." (EG: The dog has its toy)

I don't know if it works with names... it probably does. But I'm not sure.

These directly go with the possessive lesson. But as I mentioned Jibun stands for "Myself/himself/herself/themselves" etc. etc. etc. You still want to use "jibun" for those words as well.

EG: "I did it myself" ... "myself" would be replaced with "jibun"

That still follows our rules though. because "I" and "Myself" are two pronouns talking about the same person and the 2nd one IS exchanged for "jibun"

EDIT: Jibun gives the implication that it's your/their/his/her/its thing as opposed to someone else's!!

So it's more like "The cat ate it's own food (as opposed to another thing's food)"

Think you got it?

There's probably more to Jibun than this... but that's the extent of my present understanding. ;^; and it will get you through this section anyhow.


He eats his sandwich.
Kare wa jibun no sando o tabemasu.
かれ は じぶん の サンド を たべます。

Remember! Only use Jibun when both pronouns are talking about the same person!!

I drink her water.
Watashi wa kanojo no mizu o nomimasu.
わたし は かのじょ の みず を のみます。

I eat your sandwiches.
Watashi wa anata no sando o tabemasu.
わたし は あなた の サンド を たべます。

Geez we're rude all over the place today.

The dog drinks its water.
Sono inu wa jibun no mizu o nomimasu.
その いぬ は じぶん の みず を のみます。

It is her dog.
Sore wa kanojo no inu desu.
それ は かのじょ の いぬ です。

The cat eats its food.
Sono neko wa jibun no tabemono o tabemasu.
その ねこ は じぶん の たべもの を たべます。

As always, feel free to leave a comment if you see a mistake or think something can be phrased better... or if I've missed something or am flat out wrong.

As we continue I already know we're going to start hitting more things that I, myself, am not quite sure about. I know I had one in this section and it happened to involve this particular vocabulary word because I had straight translated one of these sentences as something like "I read my book = Watashi wa watashi no hon o yomimasu." and I got dinged for the second "watashi"...

... then I remembered that "Jibun" was a thing...

As I said, it seems to be kosher for all of the above examples. But if it's not the standard way of speaking please let me know. :) Thank you!

EDIT CONTINUED: For other times you need to use sentences like these, but you DON'T want to imply "-as opposed to someone else's"... then leave out the second pronoun entirely.

So "The cat ate its food." would be:
Neko wa tabemono o tabemasu.
ねこ は たべもの を たべます。

Which as you already know is "The cat ate food"

The dog drinks its water.
Inu wa mizu o nomimasu.
いぬ は みず を のみます。

He eats his sandwich.
Kare wa sando o tabemasu.
かれ は サンド を たべます。

I ate my apple.
Watashi wa ringo o tabemasu.
わたし は りんご を たべます。

  • Thank you for the clarification LegatonMik

Next lesson we'll be back to the actual duolingo possessives lesson.

See you then!

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April 4, 2015



I would say that you are mostly right, but also somewhat wrong. As you correctly state in the beginning, 自分 translates, almost directly, to ones own, however, I feel that you diverge from that meaning in the later examples.

An far as I know, 自分 means ones own as opposed to some else's. So, "彼は自分のサンドを食べます" would translate to He's eating his own sandwich, with his own referring to the sandwich belonging to him, as opposed to someone else.

I find it really difficult to explain, but that's pretty much it. If it's confusing, I'll try to elaborate, but simply put, 自分 puts the emphasis on some aspect of the subject as opposed to other entities ^^


That makes sense. :3 I didn't know that was the nuance behind it. Yeah I did kind of diverge away from the meaning I gave a bit... I should have made a smoother transition and been a little more clear on the matter. When I have a few minutes to myself I'll make an edit. x_x


No worries, it's a deceptively complex word XD I just thought it might be worth adding to avoid confusion ^^ As with many things, it's not something I've given any special thought to either, it's just when one attempts to translate it into English... it's pretty hard, actually, and depends a lot on context. I think it's important though, so I thought I should mention it ^^

I remembered a thing I noticed about サンド too, but forgot to mention last time. I'm not sure, but I think that サンド is mostly used in compound words, such as チキンサンド, and that the common term for just plain sandwich is サンドイッチ. I'm not sure though (although the Wikipedia link seems to indicate it), which is why I didn't mention it last time, but it might be worth looking into.

Thank you for taking the time to make the lesson though ^^

(Oh, right, did you sort out the クモ/グモ thing btw?)


I forgot to respond to this!!! ... ... I should probably change "sando" to "sandoicchi" ... I use "sando" out of laziness. XD that and "Sandoicchi" is hard for me to remember how to spell.

Yeah we got the Kumo/gumo thing figured out... I guess "kumo" can also be spelled "gumo"... something like that... I still think my IME is just really super kind to me. XD

I have edited the lesson appropriately (I hope)


It's the sound change thing. クモ is always クモ when it it's by itself, however, in compound words, like ユウレイグモ the k sound changes to a g ^^ Sound change is also common with t sounds and... h sounds (??), unless I'm mistaken ><


w-was it that good? o_o I was actually scared to have two notices on this one already.


Yeah I think so!


Yiddish has a similar sort of word, but it's for reflexive verbs. The word is zikh and it goes after the conjugated verb. For example, lernen in English is "to teach". So "Ikh lern zikh" means I teach myself or I learn.


Oh. :D I love language similarities like that!! ^_^ Thank you for sharing that with me!


So... it's similar to the French se?


Well, in French, you have to make it me, te, se, nous, vous, la, le, etc, but in Yiddish, it's the same word all the time.


I was thinking in infinitive, but fair enough. That's cool to know ^^


Actually, in Danish there's a word that has the same exact meaning as jibun, so my Yiddish example might not be so good.


Oh! I'm not familiar with Danish. What word is it? ^^


Over the years, whenever I listen to japanese dialogue I hear Jibun/自分, so when I scanned through this thread, I found out what it meant.

What is your opinion on similarities between japanese and turkish?


... well... I don't know anything about Turkish... so I don't know. But I DO know that quite a few languages share similar properties. :3


サンドイッチ です。 サンドだと砂を食べてるみたい。

○○サンド ハム ベーコン タマゴ BLT カツ など特定の種類をさします。


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