I translate this sentence literally as "from when did I(myself) be here?" and I extrapolate that the speaker is implying "when/how did I come to find myself here?" I feel pretty confident that this is generally what the speaker is saying, I'm just confused why it would be written this way. For instance, why {{JP:自分}} and not just {{JP:私}} or some other form of "I"? Why {{JP:から}} and not just {{JP:に}}? Is this the way a native speaker would ask this question? Or would something like {{JP:どうしてここにいるのか}} be a more natural semi-equivalent?

1 Answer 1


自分 is not an uncommon first-person pronoun. For example please see: Use of 自分【じぶん】as a personal pronoun in direct speech

いつから only means "from when", and it is clearly different from いつ ("when"), なぜ ("why") or どうやって ("how"). Do not "extrapolate", please. It's possible that someone who understands "why" and "how" does not understand "from when". For example, imagine you just woke up and found yourself lying on a hospital bed. You clearly remember you were involved in a traffic accident, but you do not know how long you have been unconscious. In this situation, you might ask いつからここにいるのか, but certainly not どうしてここにいるのか.

  • Thanks for the advice on not extrapolating. I guess it's a bad habit I've picked up, but I tend to find that relying on literal translations more regularly leaves me confused as to the meaning of the idea in question. This is true especially with idiomatic situations but applies to other situations as well I find. Regardless, thank you for the answer!
    – z.karl
    Mar 8, 2020 at 3:20

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