Grammar Info

N3 Lesson 5: 20/21

さえ~ば

If only…then, As long as..., Provided..., Only thing ... needs for ... is ...

たら can be used instead of ば form, but it is rarely the case.

Structure

Verb[ます+ さえ + すれば
Verb[て]+ さえ + いれば
Noun + さえ + Verb[ば]
[い]Adjective[く]+ さえ + あれば
Noun + さえ + [い]Adjective[ば]
[な]Adjective + () + さえ + あれば

Details

  • Register

    Standard

  • 使用域

    一般

About さえ〜ば

As a set expression, さえ~ば is a combination of the adverbial particle さえ, and the conjunction particle . It is used to highlight assumption, and presents (A) as a extreme limitation that is required to achieve (B), hypothetically. This structure may be translated as 'if only (A), then (B)', 'the only thing needed for (A) is (B)', or 'as long as (A), (B)'.
さえ may be grouped with any word, but will require the conjunctive form, or て form before it when grouped with verbs. It also regularly appears after other particles, forming a dual-particle meaning.
  • この(くすり)毎日(まいにち)()さえすれ、すぐ(なお)りますよ。
    As long as you drink this medicine every day, it will heal quickly.
  • もっと(わか)(ころ)から(かね)()めてさえいれ(いま)(ごろ)デカい(いえ)()えてたかも。
    If only I had saved up money since I was young, by now, I would have been able to buy a big house.
  • あの()(たか)(ひと)さえ(よこ)ずれてくれれ、ちゃんと()えるのに
    If only that tall person moved to the side, (then) I would be able to see.
  • タナカさん(わか)さえあれあんな(ひと)でも(やと)う。
    Tanaka-san will hire anyone, so long as they are young.
  • (いえ)(まえ)(みち)さえ(ひろ)けれSUV()えたのに
    I would have been able to buy an SUV, if only the street in front of my house was bigger.
  • (ぼく)(しず)かでさえあれどこでも()れます。
    As long as it is quiet, I can sleep anywhere.
This use of さえ is an example of limit, with (A) being a hypothetical limit presented by the particle. It is also possible to see さえ with other hypothetical indicators (such as たら), but is quite rare in modern Japanese, as さえ~ば is considered a set pattern.
  • バンドメンバー募集中(ぼしゅうちゅう)。ギターさえ()たら(だれ)でもオッケーです
    Looking for a new band member. Anyone is okay, so long as you can play the guitar.
  • 日本(にほん)英語(えいご)さえ(はな)たら、どこでも(はたら)けます。
    As long as you can speak English in Japan, you can work anywhere.
This limitation is also sometimes referred to as a 'stipulation', or 'condition'.

Examples

  • (いもうと)(ひま)さえあれ運動(うんどう)する

    Only if my sister has free time, then she will exercise.

  • 死体(したい)さえ発見(はっけん)できれ警察(けいさつ)解決(かいけつ)する

    Provided the police can find the body (then) they will solve the case.

  • (かれ)自分(じぶん)さえ()けれいい(おも)っている。

    He thinks that as long as it is good for him, it is good (for everyone).

  • 天気(てんき)さえ()けれテニスできるのに…

    If only the weather was good, then I would play tennis.

  • (きみ)さえいれ(ほか)(なに)いらない。

    I don't need anything else, as long as I have you.

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さえ〜ば – Grammar Discussion

Most Recent Replies (3 in total)

  • blossom

    blossom

  • mrnoone

    mrnoone

    Hey, sorry for a long time it took to answer, I have noticed the post today

    I have added it as an alternative answer. Basically, 暇 can be also treated not only as な adjective but also as a noun.

    Cheers

  • Zenguro

    Zenguro

    It would be great to have some examples added so that each structure point has at least one example. Some examples for adjective structures are missing right now, and I don’t see them often enough in the wild to feel comfortable with them just yet.

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