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. 

上面句子的寫法有問題嗎?

有問題;那麼問題出在何處?

句子的原意是要表明兩種水果之間的選擇﹣你可以吃蘋果或橙﹣而非兩種行動之間的選擇。所以,正確的寫法應該是: 

You may eat either the apple or the orange. 

換句話講,"eat" 應該放在 "either" 之前。

再參考另一個例子: 

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

現在錯處應該很明顯。這句子要表明的是兩種行動之間的選擇﹣蘋果或橙汁﹣而不是兩種食物或飲品之間的選擇。所以,正確的寫法是: 

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

換句話講,"eat" 應該放在 "either" 之後。

看看下面的例句: 

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"。

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!)

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。

舉例說:

不是你去洗碗,就是我去。
Either you or I am going to do the washing-up.  (correct)
Either you or I are going to do the washing-up.  (wrong!)

不是你弄得這麼亂,就是他。
Either you or he is responsible for this mess.  (correct)
Either you or he are responsible for this mess.  (wrong!)

他和我都不懂西班牙文。
Neither he nor I speak Spanish.  (correct)
Neither he nor I speaks Spanish.  (wrong!

她和你都無罪。
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。

譬如說現在正在下雨。我想說「如果現在沒有下雨的話,我會去購物。」: 

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. 

看看另一個例子。假如我想說「要不是有你陪伴,我會感到煩悶。」: 

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. 

上面的例子所說的都是現在的情況。如果我們想表達過去的情況呢? 

譬如說上星期的某天是下雨天。我想說「如果當日沒有下雨的話,我會去購物。」: 

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. 

如果我想說「當日假若沒有你的經濟援助,我早就破產了。」: 

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." 

三句話都是說「我沒有錢」。

"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

誰說學文法不重要?


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.
沒有穩固的文法基礎,就寫不出好的文章。再好的思想都需要正確文法作為支持。

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)。

舉例說: 

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!)