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"。

看看下面的例子: 

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!)

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