selbst

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German[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From the Old High German pronoun selb, selbo, from Proto-Germanic *selbaz, from Proto-Indo-European *selbʰ- (one's own), from *s(w)e- (separate, apart). Compare Low German sulv, Dutch zelf, English self, Danish selv.

Pronunciation[edit]

  • IPA(key): /zɛlpst/ (official standard)
  • IPA(key): /zɛlps/ (generally before a consonant; colloquially also in pausa)

Adverb[edit]

  1. self (oneself, myself, yourself, himself, etc.)
    Du hast es selbst zugegeben.
    You yourself admitted it.
  2. even
    Selbst du hast es zugegeben.
    Even you admitted it.

Usage notes[edit]

  • For etymological reasons, selbst is often defined as a pronoun in sense 1. However, it is used like an adverb in contemporary German and can be replaced with other synonymic adverbs: du selbstdu persönlich ("you personally").
  • Selbst is generally understood to refer to the subject of the clause, whatever its position. Thus Ich habe Sandra selbst gefragt means: "I myself asked Sandra", and not: "I asked Sandra herself." This can only be changed by placing the object at the beginning of the clause: Sandra selbst habe ich gefragt. ("Sandra herself I asked.")

Synonyms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]