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For a long time I have roughly approximated 例えば to 'for example' and thought of 例え as a word to emphasize ~ても and similar constructions, but in the lyrics to Ash like Snow by The Brilliant Green, 例えば seems to be used like 例え.

例えば光が消え失せて この地球{ほし}が堕ちても

Is 例えば really being used like 例え, or am I misinterpreting it? Is this poetic licence? Does this 例えば belong to one of the meanings here?

  • It's just an ordinary 例えば, meaning "let us say", "suppose" etc. – broccoli forest Apr 18 '17 at 3:55
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In this case, 「例{たと}えば」 is used to mean 「もしも」. That is to say that it is used to assume a situation -- "if, for instance,".

Obviously, that is not the most common meaning/usage of 「例えば」, but every good dictionary will give that definition.

It so happens that the lyrics would still make sense if 「例えば」 were to be replaced by 「例え」, but I would think that the writer actually meant to use 「例えば」 there. IMHO, therefore, it is not a matter of poetic licence.

"Does this 例えば belong to one of the meanings here?"

Yes, it is definition #3 there.

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例えば光が消え失せて この地球{ほし}が堕ちても

I visited the site and read the whole lyrics of Ash like Snow, and I found that the 「例えば」 should be written 「例え」in this phrase as a natural Japanese.

For a long time I have roughly approximated 例えば to 'for example' and thought of 例え as a word to emphasize ~ても and similar constructions

I certify that you correctly understand the meanings of 例えば and 例え, and the difference between them.

  • 1
    This answer isn't really satisfactory. Is there a reason, other than syllable count, that the songwriter would have chosen 例えば instead of 例え? – Aeon Akechi Apr 18 '17 at 22:29
  • 例えば is used to show an example of a fact, but 地球が堕{お}ちる is not a fact, so you usually can't show/tell/say the pharase with 例えば. 例え … ても is usually show/tell/say something that never happens. – mackygoo Apr 18 '17 at 23:22
  • 例えば is used not only to tell a fact, but a possible thing to happen. – mackygoo Apr 18 '17 at 23:27

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