Today’s Grammar Point: ~さえ

Yesterday, I talked about the ~まで to describe a/the limit (“to ~” or “up to ~”) or to emphasise the extreme nature of a situation (“to the extent of ~” or “even ~”). You cannot replace the limit setting ~まで with ~さえ but the ~まで for describing extremeness of a situation can sometimes be replaced with ~さえ. Today, I’m going to talk about ~さえ which can replace ~まで.

~さえ actually has 3 different meanings/usages but the ~さえ that can be replaced with ~まで is when ~さえ is used to describe “accumulation” and it can be translated using “besides” or “as well as ~.” This ~さえ is often used in a negative connotation like “something was already bad enough but even ~ happened to make it worse” but it can be used in a positive meaning. If you add も afterwards, ~さえも emphasises the accumulation even more.


  • [noun] (+ [particle])* + さえ
  • [plain form verb] + こと (+ [particle])* + さえ
    *さえ usually replaces particles は、が、を but if any other particle is needed, that stays.
  • [てform verb] + さえ

Examples of emphasis

As if the rain wasn’t bad enough, the wind started to blow a gale.

It got darker and darker, and, what is worse, it began to snow.

あめんで、太陽たいようさえかおせた。(Today’s Caption)
The rain stopped and even the sun showed up.

Even the roof was blown off by the strong wind. (there are many things blown off and even the roof blew off)

Even the teacher believed John’s lie. (there are many people who believed John’s lie and even the teacher was added to the list)

Even water is charged. (You have to pay for lots of things and even for water)

He was so hungry that he went to the extent of committing theft.

Even drinking water is difficult.

Will you go as far as cheating in order to get good marks?

Is there anything you want to protect risking everything including life?

Answer to today’s question: c (for meaning see above)

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  • さえ

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