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
Information
As a set expression, さえ~ば is a combination of the 副助詞(ふくじょし) (adverbial particle) さえ, and the 接続助詞(せつぞくじょし) (conjunction particle) . It is used to highlight 仮定(かてい) ‘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 連用形(れんようけい) (conjunctive form), or て form before it when grouped with verbs. It also regularly appears after other particles, forming a dual-particle meaning.
  • この薬(くすり)毎日(まいにち)飲(の)みさえすれ、すぐ治(なお)りますよ。
    As long as you drink this medicine everyday, it will heal quickly.
  • もっと若(わか)い頃(ころ)からお金(かね)貯(た)めてさえいれ、今(いま)頃(ごろ)デカい家(いえ)買(か)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.
  • あの背(せ)高(たか)い人(ひと)さえ横(よこ)ずれてくれれ、ちゃんと見(み)えるのに
    If only that tall person moved to the side, I would be able to see.
  • タナカさんは若(わか)くさえあれあんな人(ひと)でも雇(やと)う。
    Tanaka-san will hire anyone, so long as they are young.
  • 家(いえ)前(まえ)道(みち)さえ広(ひろ)けれSUV買(か)えたのに
    I would have been able to buy an SUV, only if the street in front of my house was bigger.
  • 僕(ぼく)は静(しず)かでさえあれどこでも寝(ね)れます。
    As long as it is quiet, I can sleep anywhere.
This use of さえ is an example of 限定(げんてい) ‘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)。ギターさえ弾(ひ)けたら誰(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)さえ話(はな)せたら、どこでも働(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 条件(じょうけん) ‘stipulation’, or ‘condition’.
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妹(いもうと)暇(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.
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死体(したい)さえ発見(はっけん)できれ警察(けいさつ)が解決(かいけつ)をする
Provided the police can find the body (then) they will solve the case.
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彼(かれ)自分(じぶん)さえ良(よ)けれいいと思(おも)っている。
He thinks that as long as it is good for him, it is good (for everyone).
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Books
Tobira
Page 119
Tae Kim's Japanese Grammar Guide
Page 312
[AIAIJ] An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese
Page 152
Shin Kanzen Master N3 Grammar
Page 32 (#3)