自分 - Jibun - Understanding its meaning

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Jibun (自分) It's often used in Japanese phrases, but it is difficult to explain how to use it. If you take a dictionary, you will find the following meanings: me, myself, myself, myself, myself, myself.

When I came across this word and its meanings I was completely confused. Jibun is a pronoun, a noun that gives an idea of oneself or personal self, but which is also used to give an idea to another person. 

The word 自分 it is similar to the English word “self”, and is used to accentuate self. Most of the time it is used to refer to "yourself", but it is used to refer to other people.

It can be difficult to translate these words if we do not have the context of the sentence in mind. There are times when it refers to the person himself but it can also be used to refer to the ego, the personality, the individuality, the character, the nature of the person. Jibun can be used to create a self portrait, but be careful not to confuse it with the word Jiko (自己) which also means self. The 2 words are similar but the meaning can vary.

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Another word that we can confuse is Jishin (自身) which also means own. The difference is that Jishin is used specifically with another pronoun, while Jibun it does not necessarily have to be used in conjunction with a pronoun. Jishin can be used in conjunction with Jibun to give more emphasis.

The Kanji that appears in the 3 words "自" also means own. They say it was originally a nose. Perhaps that is why the Japanese point to the nose when referring to themselves. So much so that the "current" nose kanji has a small 自 on top.

自分 – jibun – entendendo seu significado

It is very much like the Japanese language being full of similar words, and with many meanings. Unfortunately we were not born in Japan to understand the feeling and the essence of the word. To capture this essence, we must follow several usage examples. Below we will see some example sentences that contain  Jibun (自分). 

Examples

  • 自分について書きたいことがあります
  • Jibun ni tsuite kakitai koto ga arimasu
  • There are things about me that I want to write about.

If we add the jishin (自身) after the Jibun (自分) we will be emphasizing the person. It would look like:

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  • 自分自身について書きたいことがあります;
  • Jibun jishin ni tsuite kakitai koto ga arimasu;
  • There are things about my own person that I want to write about.

  • 自分でも負けた
  • Jibun demo maketa
  • Even though I was defeated. 
  • Even though I lost.
  • I got lost.

What is the most correct way to translate this sentence? This will depend on the context.


  • 本当に自分勝手だ。
  • Hontōni jibungatteda;
  • It is very selfish.
  • He / She / You

We will identify the pronoun according to context, the conversation or with the person to whom we are speaking.


  • 自分自身を知るべきだ
  • Jibun jishin o shirubekida
  • You must know yourself.

  • 自分の部屋を掃除しなさい。
  • Jibun no heya o sōji shi nasai;
  • Clean up your room.

  • 自分の口で言う.
  • Jibun no i kuchi;
  • Say it with your own lips.
  • Say it with your own mouth. 

  • その女子は自分に信じました
  • Sleep joshi wa jibun ni shinjimashita
  • The girl had believed in herself. 

  • 自分で解きなさい。
  • Toki nasai jibun;
  • Solve it yourself. (by itself.) 

  • 自分の事は自分でしろ
  • Jibun no koto wa jibun by shiro
  • If you want it done right, do it yourself

I personally could not fully understand the essence of this phrase, but it is a Japanese saying with that meaning. The particle の gives an idea of “If yourself”, “yourself” and “himself”. 


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I hope these examples have helped you to understand the word a little "Jibun". Unfortunately only time will help us to get all the essence and meaning of this pronoun. If you have a better idea, or an explanation, comment so that you can help your readers.

Credits to my friend Nelson from the site Ganbarouze that helped me write some things in the article. On his website you will find complete and rich details for learning Japanese.

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