Tuesday, 25 October 2011

So 和 therefore 有分別嗎?

"So" 和 "therefore" 的意思都是「因此,所以」,但 "so" 語氣上較為隨便,常用於日常對話;"therefore" 感覺上則比較正規和嚴謹。兩個字基本上通用: 

I've had diarrhoea for days, so I went to see the doctor earlier today.
I've had diarrhoea for days, therefore I went to see the doctor earlier today. 

有一點值得留意:"therefore" 可緊接於動詞或名詞之後;"so" 則不可以。 

As a teenager, he worked out every day; he was therefore stronger than most people of his age.  (correct) 
As a teenager, he worked out every day; he was so stronger than most people of his age.  (wrong!) 

She spent too much time on the first few pages of the exam paper; she therefore couldn't finish the paper before the bell rang.  (correct) 
She spent too much time on the first few pages of the exam paper; she so couldn't finish the paper before the bell rang.  (wrong!)

Saturday, 15 October 2011

如何正確地使用 either ... or ... 和 neither ... nor ... (2)

You may either eat the apple or the orange. 




You may eat either the apple or the orange. 

換句話講,"eat" 應該放在 "either" 之前。


You may eat either the apple or drink the orange juice. 


You may either eat the apple or drink the orange juice. 

換句話講,"eat" 應該放在 "either" 之後。


You can buy her either a doll or a bouquet of flowers (correct)
You can either buy her a doll or a bouquet of flowers.  (wrong!)  

I eat neither durians nor "stinky tofu".  (correct)
I neither eat durians nor "stinky tofu".  (wrong!)    

You and Paul can swim either in the pool or in the sea.  (correct)
You and Paul can either swim in the pool or in the sea.  (wrong!)

Friday, 14 October 2011

Water 和 waters 有分別嗎?

"Water" 可以加 "s" 變成 "waters" 嗎?

自小學開始,老師就教我們 "water" 是不可數的 (uncountable),所以只有單數形式 (singular)。換句話說,水無論是多少,英文都是 "water" 而不是 "waters"。在任何情況下,"waters" 都是錯的。上面的圖片來自一本被廣泛使用的中學教材;我們可以看到連課本都是這樣教的。遺憾的是,它並沒有提及 "waters" 在一些特定情況下是正確的。

如果我們是講飲用,煮食用或清潔用的水時,我們必須用 "water";這時候的 "water" 是 uncountable 的,只可以用單數形式。

但是如果我們是講水域,即某一個海,湖,或河之類的水時,我們要用複數形式 (plural) 的 "waters"。譬如說「黃河的水」是 "the waters of the Yellow River";「沿岸海域」是 "coastal waters"。


We are approaching the Japanese territorial waters.  (correct)
We are approaching the Japanese territorial water.  (wrong!) 

We should drink about eight glasses of water every day.  (correct)
We should drink about eight glasses of waters every day.  (wrong!) 

From the plane we could see the muddy yellow waters of the Yellow River.  (correct)
From the plane we could see the muddy yellow water of the Yellow River.  (wrong!)

Sunday, 9 October 2011

如何正確地使用 either ... or ... 和 neither ... nor ... (1)

當使用 "either...or..." 或 "neither...nor..." 作為句子的開頭,有一點我們必須注意:

"either (subject 1) or (subject 2)" 或 "neither (subject 1) nor (subject 2)" 隨後的動詞必須與 subject 2 相符。我們稱這規則為 "principle of proximity"。"Proximity" 就是「相近」的意思。因為 subject 2 與隨後的動詞較 subject 1 相近,所以動詞與 subject 2 相應。


Either you or I am going to do the washing-up.  (correct)
Either you or I are going to do the washing-up.  (wrong!)

Either you or he is responsible for this mess.  (correct)
Either you or he are responsible for this mess.  (wrong!)

Neither he nor I speak Spanish.  (correct)
Neither he nor I speaks Spanish.  (wrong!

Neither she nor you are guilty of the offence.  (correct)
Neither she nor you is guilty of the offence.  (wrong!)

Saturday, 8 October 2011

But for 的意思是什麼?

But for the defendant's act, would the result have happened?

"But for" 的意思是什麼呢?

"But for" 其實相當於 "if it were not for" 或 "if it had not been for"。中文可以翻譯作「如果不是....的話」。

還記得 conditional sentences type 2 和 type 3 嗎? 

簡單來說,conditional sentences type 2 的 pattern 是: 

If + past tense, would/should/could + verb. 

conditional sentences type 3 的 pattern 則是: 

If + past perfect tense, perfect conditional. 

「But for 句子」其實是 conditional sentences 的一種。有些時候它可以取代 type 2type 3 句子。


If it weren't for the rain, I would go shopping.  (Type 2) 
Were it not for the rain, I would go shopping.  (Type 2)

這時我們可以用 "but for" 去取代 "if it weren't for" 或 "were it not for": 

But for the rain, I would go shopping. 


If it weren't for your company, I would feel bored.  (Type 2) 
Were it not for your company, I would feel bored.  (Type 2)

現在用 "but for" 作為句子開始部分: 

But for your company, I would feel bored. 



If it hadn't been for the rain, I would have gone shopping.  (Type 3) 
Had it not been for the rain, I would have gone shopping.  (Type 3)

現在再一次用 "but for" 作為句子開始部分: 

But for the rain, I would have gone shopping. 


If it hadn't been for your financial support, I would have gone bankrupt.  (Type 3) 
Had it not been for your financial support, I would have gone bankrupt.  (Type 3)

用 "but for" 開始句子: 

But for your financial support, I would have gone bankrupt.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

R.I.P. Steve Jobs

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

I have no money, I've got no money 和 I got no money 有分別嗎?

"I have no money."
"I've got no money."
"I got no money." 


"Have" 和 "have got" 一樣,都是「有」的意思。和 "I have no money" 相比,"I've got no money" 聽上來比較隨便和自然,適用於日常對話。有些英語作為母語的人甚至會說 "I got no money",連 "have" 都刪去。這是極隨便的說法,不宜用於寫作。

一些北美的基層民眾會說 "I ain't got no money";這種雙重否定 (double negative; ain't got = haven't got) 的句式在正統英文中被視為錯誤,不宜學習,除非你想入鄉隨俗。

Monday, 3 October 2011


前英國首相,諾貝爾文學獎得主 Winston Churchill 在讀書時期受過嚴格的文法教育,成就了他日後在文學和演講上的成功。看看他在自傳 "My Early Life" 中對文法學習的描述:
We were considered such dunces [遲鈍的學生] that we could learn only English.  Mr Somervell - a most delightful man, to whom my debt is great - was charged with [使承擔責任] the duty of teaching the stupidest boys the most disregarded thing - namely, to write mere English.  He knew how to do it.  He taught it as no one else has ever taught it.  Not only did we learn English parsing [句法分析] thoroughly, but we also practised continually English analysis.  Mr Somervell had a system of his own.  He took a fairly long sentence and broke it up into its components by means of black, red, blue, and green inks.  Subject, verb, object: Relative Clauses, Conditional Clauses, Conjunctive and Disjunctive Clauses!  Each had its colour and its bracket.  It was a kind of drill.  We did it almost daily.  As I remained in the Third Form three times as long as anyone else, I had three times as much of it.  I learned it thoroughly.  Thus I got into my bones the essential structure of the ordinary British sentence - which is a noble thing.  And when in after years [在以後的歲月裡] my schoolfellows who had won prizes and distinction for writing such beautiful Latin poetry and pithy [精煉的] Greek epigrams [詼諧短詩] had to come down again to common English, to earn their living or make their way [前進], I did not feel myself at any disadvantage.  Naturally I am biased in favor of boys learning English.  I would make them all learn English: and then I would let the clever ones learn Latin as an honour, and Greek as a treat.  But the only thing I would whip them for is not knowing English, I would whip them hard for that.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Between 和 among 有分別嗎?

兩者之間的分享,分配,或選擇,我們會用 preposition "between";三者或以上,我們則用 "among"(也可寫作 "amongst"): 

I find it difficult to divide my time between my family and my work.  (correct) 
I find it difficult to divide my time among my family and my work.  (wrong!) 

Doctors work among the sick.  (correct) 
Doctors work between the sick.  (wrong!) 
(註:"among" 也有「在...其中」的意思)

Mum divided the food up among the three of us.  (correct) 
Mum divided the food up between the three of us.  (wrong!)  

Between Nicholas and Edison, I'd say that Nicholas looks more handsome.  (correct) 
Among Nicholas and Edison, I'd say that Nicholas looks more handsome.  (wrong!) 

The five thieves shared the stolen jewellery among themselves.  (correct) 
The five thieves shared the stolen jewellery between themselves.  (wrong!)

Altogether 和 all together 有分別嗎?

作為一個 adverb,"altogether" 的意思是「完全,總共,總之」:

My goals are altogether different from yours.
Altogether you owe me two thousand dollars.
The games were exciting, the music was great and the food was delicious.  Altogether it was an awesome night!

上面例句中的 "altogether" 都不可以改成 "all together",因為 "all together" 的意思是「一道,一起」:

It is time we confronted the enemy all together.
All together the soldiers march towards the barracks.
We went to his house all together.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Continually 和 continuously 有分別嗎?

"Continually" 和 "continuously" 的意思都是「連續地」,但分別在於 "continually" 是連續但有中斷時間 (with pauses in between),而 "continuously" 則是連續而沒有中斷時間 (without pauses in between)。


The rain fell continually for 2 hours with only a few pauses.  (correct) 
The rain fell continuously for 2 hours with only a few pauses.  (wrong!) 

I turned on the tap and the water flowed continuously.  (correct)
I turned on the tap and the water flowed continually.  (wrong!)

Friday, 30 September 2011

如何正確地使用 possessives

我們用 possessives 去表達人或物的所屬關係,譬如說 "my dad's car", "the man's shoes", "the leg of the desk" 或 "the floor of the house"。

  • the car of my dad
  • the shoes of the man
  • the desk's leg
  • the house's floor
要表示人或生物的所屬關係,我們會用 apostrophe ('s) 帶出:
  • the boy's computer
  • Mr Lee's house
  • Sally's dress
  • the dog's tail
如要表示死物的所屬關係,我們則用 of 帶出:
  • the roof of the house
  • the tyre of the car
  • the lid of the bottle
  • the top of the desk 
  • the waters of the Pacific Ocean

Thursday, 29 September 2011

funds 和 fund 有分別嗎?

"Funds" 的意思是「金錢,資本,資金」。 

牛津高階字典把 "funds" 解釋為:money that is available to be spent.

"Fund"(沒有 "s")的意思是「基金,專款」:an amount of money that has been saved or has been made available for a particular purpose.  (Oxford Dictionary, 7th Edition)

由此可見,"fund" 是為某一個特定目的而存在的金錢。  

The government has set up a fund to help the poor (correct)
The government has set up funds to help the poor (wrong!) 

The unemployed man no longer has the funds to support his everyday expenditure.  (correct)
The unemployed man no longer has the fund to support his everyday expenditure.  (wrong!)

A disaster relief fund has been set up to help the earthquake victims.  (correct)
Disaster relief funds have been set up to help the earthquake victims.  (wrong!)

My collectibles are going to turn into my kid's college fund (correct)
My collectibles are going to turn into my kid's college funds.  (wrong!)

But for your financial assistance, I wouldn't have had sufficient funds to start my own business.  (correct)
But for your financial assistance, I wouldn't have had sufficient fund to start my own business.  (wrong!)

Due to 和 owing to 有分別嗎?

"Due to" 的意思是「由於」;"owing to" 的意思也是「由於」。但用法上,它們是有分別的。

著名英文學家 Henry Fowler 寫過一本書名為 A Dictionary of Modern English Usage;根據他的著作,"due to" 是 adjectival,前面必須由動詞 "be" 帶出: 

His absence was due to the typhoon.
Her coming to work late was due to the heavy traffic.
My dissatisfaction with working in this company is due to the low pay. 

"Owing to" 是 adverbial,前面不用 "be" 帶出: 

He did not go to work owing to the typhoon.
Owing to the heavy traffic, she came to work late.
I'm dissatisfied working in this company owing to the low pay.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011



演說也好,寫作也好,重點是要精簡,流暢,和辨明讀者或聽者是誰。有兩個同義詞,一個簡單一個複雜,定必使用簡單的那個。與其說 "ameliorate",不如說 "improve";與其說 "pulchritude",不如說 "beauty"。同樣地,"before" 比 "prior to" 好,"try" 又比 "endeavour" 好。

偉大的演說家如 Winston Churchill 和 Barack Obama 在演說時從來都不用浮誇的詞彙,因為簡單的字最能引起共鳴,激勵人心,令人留下深刻印象。


引用加州大學教授 Richard Wydick 的一句話: 

When they [pompous words 浮誇詞彙] are used in writing . . . they baffle and annoy.

People 和 peoples 有分別嗎?

最近談及 "people" 和 "persons" 的分別:

那麼 "peoples" 的意思又是什麼呢?

請留意,"people" 一字除了可以解作「人們」,也可以解作「民族」。

牛津高階字典把 "people" 作為「民族」時的解釋是:all the persons who live in a particular place or belong to a particular country, race, etc

"People" 作為人 (person) 的複數,不可以加 "s"。

"People" 作為「民族」而我們要表達多個民族,則要加 "s" 成為 "peoples"。譬如說: 

the native peoples of Australia = 澳洲的本土民族 
the peoples of the world = 世上各個民族

Flammable 和 inflammable 有分別嗎?

"Flammable" 的意思是「易燃的」。

"Inflammable" 看上來像是 "flammable" 的反義詞 (antonym);其實不是。

"Inflammable" 和 "flammable" 是同義詞 (synonym),都是解作「易燃的」;而它們的反義詞分別是 "non-inflammable" 和 "non-flammable"。

English is a crazy language, isn't it?

Monday, 26 September 2011

Table of Contents

「目錄」的英文是 "contents",或 "table of contents"。「目錄頁」的英文是 "a contents page"。

為什麼 Tao 掏寶雜誌裡的 "table of content" 是錯的呢? 

"Content" 作為單數形式時的意思是「內容」。因為雜誌或書本裡的每一個 chapter 或 section 都有一個獨立的內容 (content),而「目錄」則是所有「內容」的一覽表,所以「目錄」的英文應該是複數形式的 "contents" 或 "table of contents",而不是單數形式的 "content"。

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish

This is a perfect example of what a good speech (or a good piece of writing) is all about: inspiring, straight to the point, and devoid of flowery language.

I would encourage you all to spare 15 minutes of your time and read through the script.  Listen to the speech as you read along.

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it's likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.
I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.

This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope it's the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

Source: http://news.stanford.edu/news/2005/june15/jobs-061505.html

Sunday, 25 September 2011


「豬都會上樹」= "Pigs might fly!"

八兩金:One day, Cecilia Cheung will fall in love with me.
路人甲:Yeah, and pigs might fly!

用 the + adjective 去形容某一類人

"The + adjective" 這樣的結構我們稱之為 abstract nouns,可以用來形容某一類人: 

the rich = 有錢人 (people who are rich) 
the poor = 窮人 (people who are poor) 
the old = 老年人 (people who are old) 
the young = 年青人 (people who are young) 
the blind = 盲人 (people who are blind) 
the handicapped = 殘疾人 (people who are handicapped)

記住上面的例子全都應配上 plural verbs: 

The old are in need of our understanding.
The poor work very hard and yet earn very little. 
The handicapped need to work all together to protect their rights.

使用這種結構時,我們不需要在後面加上 "people" 一字。說 "the rich people" 文法上不算錯,只是略嫌畫蛇添足。


It's time the powerful stopped exploiting the weak. 
The young are unwilling to work hard these days.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

用 verbs of sensation 作句時應注意之事項

Verbs of sensation,又名為 verbs of perception,是指那些和我們知覺(如聽覺,視覺,觸覺等)相關的動詞。它們包括:watch, see, observe, listen, hear, smell, feel, notice, etc

用 verbs of sensation 作句時,學生常犯如下面的錯誤: 

I heard her played the piano. 

因為見到 "hear" 用了過去式的 "heard",就以為句子中所有動詞都要用過去式。

請記著,verbs of sensation 隨後的動詞,我們用原形動詞 (bare infinitive) 或現在分詞 (present participle) 來帶出。


I smell something burning!
She heard him call her earlier today.
I see him passing the post office every day.  
He saw me leave the house.
The policeman saw him steal from the shop.
I felt the ground shaking.
They beheld stars shining in the sky.

Friday, 23 September 2011

I saw him walk past 和 I saw him walking past 有分別嗎?

I saw him _____ (walk) past the billboard. 

很多學生都知道,"walk" 或 "walking" 都是正確的。在表達知覺的動詞 (verbs of sensation) 如 "see","hear","smell"之後,我們可以用原形動詞 (bare infinitive) 或現在分詞 (present participle) 去帶出隨後的動詞。

但兩者意思上真的完全相同嗎? "I saw him walk past" 和 "I saw him walking past" 沒有分別嗎?


"I saw him walk past the billboard" 的意思是:我看見他經過那廣告牌,並且看了整個過程

"I saw him walking past the billboard" 的意思一樣是「我看見他經過那廣告牌」,但這句話卻沒有暗示你看到整個過程;你可能只看了一秒,也可能看到他從廣告牌的一方走到牌的另一方。

Thursday, 22 September 2011

The Fleeting Nature of Life

在加拿大讀中學,英文科的主要教材是莎士比亞的劇作和其他著名作家的作品。還記得在 Grade 11(即香港的中五)時讀了莎士比亞的 Macbeth。裡面有一段話令我留下深刻印象:
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more.  It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

人生的確就是這樣 ﹣短暫,轉瞬即逝。

再談 collective nouns

以前講過有關 collective nouns 的特點:


重點是 collective nouns 可以配單數動詞 (singular verb) 或者數動詞 (plural verb)。如果把一個 collective noun 視為一個獨立單位,我們會用單數動詞;如果把它視為一大班人,我們則用數動詞。


As one team, MTR staff serve you deep from the heart.

"Staff" 是一個 collective noun,可以配上單數動詞或複數動詞。但因為有 "as one team" 這句話,我們把港鐵員工視為一個單位,一個隊伍,所以配上單數動詞會比較好:

As one team, MTR staff serves you deep from the heart. 

Fill in a form 和 fill out a form 有分別嗎?

Fill _____ the application form and submit it by Friday. 

遇著如上面的問題,應該填上什麼 preposition 呢?

"In" 或 "out" 也可以。

"To fill in a form" 和 "to fill out a form" 都是解作「填寫表格」。


Fill _____ your name and phone number in the space provided. 

答案是 "in"。說「填寫資料」我們一般會用 "fill in"。

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Persons 和 people 有分別嗎?

自小學校就教我們 "person" 的複數(plural)是 "people"。那麼 "persons" 是錯的嗎?

其實 "persons" 和 "people" 都是 "person" 的複數,只是 "people" 較為通用,而 "persons" 則是比較正式的用語,常見於法律文件。所以「十個人」可以是 "ten people",也可以是 "ten persons"。假如人數不明,我們一般會用 "people" 而不用 "persons",譬如說 "a number of people","some people","full of people" 或 "a group of people"。

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Sometime 和 some time 有分別嗎?

"Sometime" 和 "some time" 意思上並不相同,但因為它們實在太相似,很多人(包括母語是英語的人)都把它們搞混了。

"Sometime" 的意思是「在某時」。我們用 "sometime" 來表達一個尚未確定的時間。 

I'll see him sometime next week.
(= 我會在下個星期的某個時候見他。) 

We'll go to Japan sometime in December.
(= 我們會在十二月的某個時候去日本。) 

They saw Leehom sometime last year.
(= 他們在去年的某個時候遇見王力宏。)

"Some time" 的意思是「一段時間」。 

I took some time to sweep the floor.
(= 我用了一段時間去掃地。) 

Cleaning the entire house will take some time.
(= 把整間房子打掃乾淨需要一段時間。) 

It has been quite some time since I last saw Leehom.
(= 自從上一次遇見王力宏至今已有一段日子。)

My Alma Mater

You had better....

昨天有學生問,如果要對人說「你最好聽我講」,英文是不是 "you better listen to me"?


You had better listen to me.
You'd better listen to me.

日常對話中,我們通常會把 "you had better" 簡化為 "you'd better"。(注意:不是 "you better")

留意 "had better" 之後的動詞是原形動詞 (bare infinitive)。

It's very late now; we'd better go home.
(= 現在很晚了,我們是時候回家。) 

You had better start preparing for the HKDSE English exam!
(= 你最好現在就為香港中學文憑英文試作準備!)

Monday, 19 September 2011

錯用 staff 這個字的實例

前一陣子寫過有關 "staff" 這個字的正確用法。有興趣的可看看下面連結: 



Ballot Box for The Most Liked Staff Contest

惠康把「最抵讚員工」翻譯為 "the most liked staff";心水清的同學們都應該知道如何把它改正過來。我們應該寫:

Ballot Box for The Most Liked Staff Member Contest

註:有部分英語國家的人的確會把「二十名員工」寫成 "20 staff",但那絕對不是標準英文,建議大家不要學。

Sunday, 18 September 2011

如何正確地用 etc. (et cetera)

以下句子中,etc. 的用法全錯。你知道錯在哪裡嗎? 

Don't forget to bring a pen, an eraser, some paper, and etc.

I went to supermarket and bought vegetables, oranges, and apples, etc. 

大家都知道 etc. 是 et cetera 的簡寫,意思是:等等,以及其他

它的英文意思是 "and other similar things"。

第一句錯是因為 etc. 意思中已包括 "and",所以我們不會說 "and etc.";第二句錯是因為 "apples" 前的 "and" 是多餘的。


Don't forget to bring a pen, an eraser, some paper, etc. 

I went to supermarket and bought vegetables, oranges, apples, etc.

Some Aussie slang words that I've picked up over the years

In Australia, hen eggs are known as bum nuts.

A bicycle is known as a deadly treadly.

Maccas is the Australian name for McDonald's.

Arvo is short for afternoon.

Now, let's make a sentence out of these words, shall we?

Hey mate, I'm gonna hop on my deadly treadly and go down to maccas for some bum nuts this arvo.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Robert Richter, QC

Robert Richter, an Australian criminal barrister of immense intellect, is my idol.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Hang 的過去式是 hanged 還是 hung?

動詞 "hang" 的過去式究竟是 "hanged" 還是 "hung" 呢?

答案取決於 "hang" 本身的定義。 

"Hang" 可以解作:懸掛,垂下 

這個時候,"hang" 的過去式 (past tense) 和過去分詞 (past participle) 都是 "hung"。

"Hang" 另一個意思是:被吊死,施以絞刑

如果意思是「被吊死,施以絞刑」,"hang" 的 past tense 和 past participle 就是 "hanged",而不是 "hung"。


He hung his picture on the wall. (correct)
He hanged his picture on the wall. (wrong!)

He was hanged for murder. (correct)
He was hung for murder. (wrong!)

Feeling ashamed, he hung his head. (correct)
Feeling ashamed, he hanged his head. (wrong!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The price is expensive? What?


The price of this house is more expensive than the price of that house. 


錯在用 "expensive" 來形容 "price"。

"Price" 只有 high 或 low,沒有 expensive 或 cheap。我們說 "a high price",或 "a low price",而不是說 "an expensive price / a cheap price"。


The price of this house is higher than the price of that house. 

如果非用 "expensive" 這個字不可,我們只有把句子寫成: 

This house is more expensive than that house. 



"We had a good laugh ...." 

日校老師說這句子錯了,"laugh" 不能這麼用,應把它改為:

"We laughed at ...."

事實是,"to have a good laugh" 是一個 common collocation(常用詞組),常用到不得了。把 "to have a good laugh" 硬改為 "to laugh at" 會將原文意思扭曲,因為 "to laugh at" 等於 "to ridicule",不是笑,而是嘲笑。



Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Few 和 a few 有分別嗎?

"Few" 和 "a few" 的意思不盡相同。

"Few" 的意思是:很少,幾乎沒有 (hardly any) 

"A few" 的意思是:一些,幾個 (some) 


As he has few friends, he is always bored.

He has a few friends, but he's still bored most of the time.

She has made few friends since she lived abroad.

She has made a few friends since she lived abroad.

I have few relatives in Hong Kong.

I have a few relatives in Hong Kong.

Man is good

I know in my heart that man is good, that what is right will always eventually triumph, and there is a reason to each and every life.

- Ronald Reagan

拉登的死令我想起前美國總統列根以上的一句話。留意單數形式,前面沒有 article (a, an, the) 的 "man" 是表示「人類」,不是「男人」。


Animals are man's friends. (correct)
Animals are men's friends. (wrong!)

"Triumph" 可作名詞或動詞;意思是:成功獲勝

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Alright 和 all right 有分別嗎?

"All right" 的意思基本上跟 "okay" 一樣: 

Do you feel all right? 
= Do you feel okay?

Leave me alone, all right?  I'm sitting the HKDSE English exam tomorrow!
= Leave me alone, okay?  I'm sitting the HKDSE English exam tomorrow!

I hope you're all right.
= I hope you're okay.   

All right, it's time we went home.
= Okay, it's time we went home. 

"Alright" 和 "all right" 的意思相同,但英語專家普遍視 "alright" 為 informal English,不適用於正式書面語。所以同學們平日還是盡量避免寫 "alright",免得考試時失分。

Monday, 12 September 2011

Check out my facebook page!

Hooray!  My facebook page is finally up and running!  Come and have a look! 


I'm grateful to all the people who have "liked" the page!