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What kind of word is 雨さえ and how does it work with なければ since it does not seem to be a adjective or verb?

full sentence:

雨さえなければ、七月四日に花火大会を行うつもりです。 (As long as it doesn't rain, we intend to hold the fireworks display on July 4th.)

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  • The word さえ is a 副助詞 ("supplementary particle" or "adverbial particle"). In conjunction with a conditional phrase, it establishes the minimum condition required to satisfy a given result.
    – Philippe
    Aug 26, 2023 at 14:32
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    Does this answer your question? さえ: How to use it?
    – jarmanso7
    Aug 27, 2023 at 6:45

1 Answer 1

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According to Martin, さえ has three meanings, the basic meaning being 'in addition', e.g. なるほど風が大分強くなって雨さえ降りだしたようである, 'it seems that the wind became really quite strong, and in addition it started to rain'. More frequently it means 'even', much like も which can in fact be attached to さえ、さえも. The third meaning, here, is to narrow the focus onto some element (adjunct of the verb, or the verb itself) before a verb + えば (provisional), conveying the meaning of '(if) just', e.g. 暇さえあれば, 'if there just be time', 薬さえ飲めば, 'if you just take your medicine', with emphasis on 'medicine', while 薬を飲みさえすれば puts the emphasis on the 'taking'; we would distinguish this with stress in English.

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  • さえ has three meanings, the basic meaning being 'in addition', e.g. 道が暗いうえに雨さえ降りだした This is not correct. In this phrase, it is the ~うえに that means "in addition (on top of ~)".
    – istrasci
    Oct 26, 2023 at 16:31
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    That is certainly a bad example. I do think that さえ has the meaning of 'in addition' here, but it appears to be a pleonastic usage, since as you point out 上に conveys a similar meaning. Here is a better example from 国木田独歩, 忘れえぬ人々, なるほど風が大分強くなって雨さえ降りだしたようである
    – N. Hunt
    Oct 26, 2023 at 19:24
  • Etymologically, the particle さえ derives from the verb 添える "to add onto". See also kotobank.jp/word/%E3%81%95%E3%81%88-508751 Oct 26, 2023 at 23:29

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