So I more or less understand that it means "self", however I still don't get how to translate it. For example in the sentence:

Ganz ehrlich, ich wusste zu Beginn selbst nicht, ob ich die Beantwortung der Frage für wichtig halte.

I guess "self not" is not a proper translation of "selbst nicht".

So are there other usage of "selbst"?

  • Vogel, you were right, the word order confused me. So does "selbst" usually stay near the end of a sentence?
    – Lex
    Dec 24, 2013 at 1:56
  • Not really. The fun thing about the placement of selbst is, that it shifts the meaning of the whole sentence.. I think this is worth a new question.
    – Vogel612
    Dec 24, 2013 at 2:04
  • Aaaaaand there it is: german.stackexchange.com/questions/9122/…
    – Vogel612
    Dec 24, 2013 at 2:11

2 Answers 2


You are making a small erroneous assumption here. "selbst" here is primarily connected to "ich" in this sentence.

"nicht" is connected to the verb ("wissen") here.

One could reformulate:

Ich selbst wusste nicht [...]

Then the translation gets clear:

ich selbst --> I self --> I myself

And then translating the whole sentence gives us:

Honestly in the beginning I myself didn't know, whether I believed the question's answering to be relevant.

  • What's the difference in meaning between "I didn't know" and "I myself didn't know" ? 2 days ago

It translates roughly to either "even" or "my-, your-, his-, one-, herself"/"our-, theirselves".

In all honesty, I myself didn't initially know whether I regarded the answer to the question as important.

In all honesty, I didn't even initially know whether I regarded the answer to the question as important.

You can also use "selbst" to emphasize that something was done by you

Das habe ich selbst gemacht! == I did that by myself!

Die Königin selbst könnte das nicht machen == The queen herself couldn't do that

  • 1
    While "even" here fits the meaning behind the usage of "selbst" wonderfully, I wouldn't call it an actual translation, ---not even roughly--- nicht selbst ungefähr 😫
    – Vogel612
    Dec 24, 2013 at 1:10
  • @Vogel612 selbst nicht ungefähr
    – Emanuel
    Dec 24, 2013 at 12:37

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.