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All About Japanese Particles: さえ (sae)

[Serie: All About Japanese Particles]

1. “Even.”

Note: This usage is similar to de mo (#5, no. 2), but is more emphatic.

Sono mondai wa sensei de sae kotaerarenakatta.
Even the teacher couldn’t answer that [test] question.

Sonna kantan na koto wa, kodomo de sae shitte imasu yo.
Even a child knows such a simple thing! / A mere child would know something as simple as that.

2. In the form sae … -tara or sae … -ba, implies that if something additional is (had been) done, a positive outcome will occur (would have accurred): “if only.”

Mō gofun sae attara, hikō-ki ni ma ni atta no ni…
If we had only five more minutes, we would have been on time for the flight.

Ken-chan wa atama ga ii-n desu kara, benkyō sae sureba ii daigaku ni hairemasu yo.
Ken has a good head on his shoulders, so if he only studies, he’ll be able to get into a good university.

– Source: All about particles – A handbook of Japanese function words


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