自分 or 私 when to use

im confused as to when you should use 自分 over 私 (or any of its equivalents like 僕 or 俺)
is it strictly used as an object like ‘myself’ is in english, or is it different?
any help would be appreciated

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Remember that 自分 means “oneself” essentially. You can use it where you would use myself, yourself, themselves, etc. (and it doesn’t necessarily have to be translated as a -self word)

I’m sure others have more tips though.


You can use 自分 as to refer to yourself like “I”, but a teacher I had who was a native said it sounds more like something an athlete or a soldier might use to refer to themself.

In a drama I watched a year or so ago, one of the characters used 自分 a lot during a blind date and the woman commented about it being off-putting and how his usage of it made her think they weren’t a match after the date which inspired my asking about it.


It’s definitely not strictly an object, and it can even be used as a first-person pronoun. What I gather is that it mostly has precedent in a military setting, and it’s often used in situations mimicking that sort of military “hardened”/hierarchical mentality.

More info: usage - Use of 自分【じぶん】as a personal pronoun in direct speech - Japanese Language Stack Exchange

It’s also just the reflexive pronoun (meaning referring back to yourself - or someone else, depending on context), same as “myself” in English, and can be used as such, like Leebo said. That can sometimes be used for emphasis, like 自分gはりんごが嫌いです - as for myself, I dislike apples. To me it feels a bit like drawing a strict line between yourself and your environment/the listener, like you’re saying “what I’m saying here is about me and only me”.

So for general use as a first person pronoun, I wouldn’t recommend it, but it can be used in similar ways.


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