Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Newspaper 是 countable 還是 uncountable?


眾所周知,當 "paper" 的意思是「紙張」時,它是不可數的 (uncountable),單一數量必須以 "a piece of" 來修飾,如 "a piece of paper","two pieces of paper" 等等。

跟「紙張」不同,"newspaper" 卻是可數的 (countable):

My dad has a habit of reading four newspapers every morning.  (我父親有每天早上讀四份報紙的習慣。)

有一點我們必須留意,就是當 "paper" 的意思是「論文」或「證件」時,它則是可數的,可直接在 "paper" 後面加 "s": 

Professor Wong has published three papers on tuberculosis.  (黃教授發表了三篇有關於結核病的論文。) 

Please have all your identification papers ready.  (請把你所有的身份證明文件準備好。)

Monday, 23 April 2012

用 collective nouns 造句時要注意的事項


前一陣子講過一個 collective noun 可以配單數動詞 (singular verbs) 或眾數動詞 (plural verbs),視乎於你對這個 collective noun 的觀點: 

http://grammarfun101.blogspot.com/2011/08/collective-nouns.html

用 collective nouns 造句時,有三點我們必須注意。首先,我們必須保持句子的一致性,譬如說: 

When the army comes home, it will be welcomed by the President. 

在這句子裡,我們把 "army" 視為一個獨立單位 (軍隊),為它配上一個 singular verb "comes",所以句子後半部分的 subject 我們必須用 "it",不能用 "they"。相反,如果我們視 "army" 為一群軍人,我們則需要用一個 plural verb "come",句子的 subject 變為 "they": 

When the army come home, they will be welcomed by the President. 

第二點要注意的是,句子本身的內容往往已經決定一個 collective noun 究竟應該配一個 singular verb 還是 plural verb。譬如說: 

My family are the most generous people I know. 

這句子裡的 "are" 絕不能用 "is" 去取代,因為我們把 "family" 視為「家人」,視為 "people"。可是如果我們要說「家庭是組成社會的一個單位」,我們則要用 singular verb "is" 去配上 "family" 這個字: 

The family is a social unit. 

最後,如果一個 collective noun 是形容死物的,例如 "cutlery" (餐具)我們只會為它配上一個 singular verb: 

The cutlery is in the drawer.  (餐具就在抽屜裡。)

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Make a scene 和 make the scene 有分別嗎?


一個人當著眾人面前大哭大鬧,我們可以說這個人在 "make a scene":

Peter made a scene when he saw his girlfriend hanging out with other guys.  (當 Peter 看見他的女朋友跟其他男生一起外出,他當眾大吵大鬧起來。) 

Edison bumped into Nicholas and made a scene by having a fight with him.  (Edison 偶然遇見 Nicholas,便大吵大鬧和跟他打架起來。) 

Sylvia always gets what she wants by making a scene.  (Sylvia 經常用大哭大鬧的方式去達成她的目的。) 

I've told you not to make a scene!  (我早就跟你說過不要當眾大吵大鬧!)

"Make the scene" 的意思可不同了;它的意思是「露面」: 

If he doesn't make the scene today, I'll never talk to him again!  (如果他今天不露面,我永遠再不會跟他說話!) 

Are you sure you'll be able to make the scene?  (你確定你能到場嗎?)

一字之差,意思可以變得完全不同。

Friday, 20 April 2012

為什麼有些動詞不能有被動語態 (passive voice)?



要知道為什麼有些動詞不能有被動語態 (passive voice),我們必須首先弄明白什麼是及物動詞 (transitive verbs),什麼是不及物動詞 (intransitive verbs)。

簡單來說,一個 transitive verb 必須有受詞 (object)。先看看 "hear" 這個字。"Hear" 是一個 transitive verb,因為它必須有一個 object 跟隨其後。你不能說: 

I hear.  (wrong!)

你必須說: 

I hear something.  (object = something) 
I hear a song.  (object = song)

跟 transitive verbs 相反,一個 intransitive verb 不能有 object 跟隨其後。譬如說 "die" 這個動詞;它是一個 intransitive verb:  

He died. 

無論你如何嘗試,你也不能強加一個 object 在 "die" 後面而令句子仍然講得通。

現在你知道 transitive verbs 和 intransitive verbs 的分別,你就能明白為什麼有些 verbs 不可以用 passive voice。

大家都知道,被動語態句子必須把原本句子的 object 變成 subject: 

He killed a lion.  (subject = he; object = lion) 
A lion was killed by him.  (subject = lion; object = him)

既然一個 intransitive verb 不能有 object,它自然不能有 passive voice。

所以結論是:intransitive verbs 不能有 passive voice。

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Among 和 amongst 有分別嗎?


"Among" 的意思是「在...其中」。 

There is a green apple among the red apples.  (在紅蘋果中有一個青蘋果。) 

I've got that magazine among my boxes of books upstairs.  (我樓上有很多箱書;我的那本雜誌就在那些書當中。)

"Among" 的另一個寫法是 "amongst"。"Among" 和 "amongst" 並沒有分別;兩個字都是 preposition,意思和用法上都沒有區別,只是 "amongst" 比較 formal 和沒有 "among" 那麼常用。

Mother Teresa worked amongst the poor.  (德蘭修女在窮人當中工作。) 

Timothy and I are amongst the top students in Hong Kong.  (Timothy 和我是香港最優秀學生中的兩人。)

至於 "among" 和 "between" 的分別,請參考下面的 link: 

http://grammarfun101.blogspot.com/2011/10/between-among.html

Sunday, 15 April 2012

要說「董建華是第一位香港特區首長」,動詞應該用 is 還是 was?


董建華先生現在仍然是香港的第一位特區首長,所以動詞應該用 "is":

Mr Tung Chee-hwa is the first Chief Executive of Hong Kong. 

假如他現在仍然在位,我們當然也會用 "is":

Mr Tung Chee-hwa is the Chief Executive of Hong Kong. 

但現在他已離職了,所以上面的句子我們應該用 "was":

Mr Tung Chee-hwa was the Chief Executive of Hong Kong. 

假如他已去世了,我們也是用 "was"。

Monday, 9 April 2012

He's one of the boys who has/have cheated. 應該用 "has" 還是 "have"?


答案是:應該用 "have"。

今天課堂上的幾個學生都犯了同樣的錯誤。為什麼 "have" 才是正確呢?

請先分析句子的意思: 他是其中一個作弊的男生。換言之,不止一個男生作弊,他只是當中的一個。句子中動詞的真正 subject 是代表 "boys" 的 relative pronoun "who",而不是 "he" 或 "one"。因此,動詞應該用上 "have cheated" 而不是 "has cheated"。

請參考下面的 link,看看其他類似的例子:

http://grammarfun101.blogspot.com/2012/02/one-of-things.html

Sunday, 8 April 2012

"You, Paul and Mary" 還是 "Paul, Mary and you"?


西方人,特別是以前的英國人,為了表現自己的謙遜 (modesty, self-effacement),習慣把自己 "I" 放在最後: 

Ms Zhang and I used to be a couple.  (而不會說:I and Ms Zhang used to be a couple.) 
Paul, Dick and I are working abroad.  (不會說:I, Paul and Dick are working abroad.)

這習慣一直維持至今。同樣地,為了表現對聆聽對象或書寫對象的尊重,他們習慣把「你」放在最前: 

You and I have been friends for a decade.  (而不會說:I and you...)
You, Paul and Mary are going to participate in the upcoming singing contest.  (不會說:Paul, Mary and you are going to...)

其它例子還有我們常聽的 "Ladies and Gentlemen"。英國男人為了顯示自己彬彬有禮,會先說 "Ladies" 而後說 "Gentlemen"。相信你從沒聽過有人說 "Gentlemen and Ladies" 吧!

Monday, 2 April 2012

Sharing of verbs by subjects


"This dish is clean but those over there dirty."

這句話的問題出在哪裡呢? 句子的第一個 subject (主語) "dish" 是單數的,而第二個 subject "those" 則是複數的,因此它們不能分享同一個 singular verb (單數動詞) "is"。正確的寫法應該是:

"This dish is clean but those over there are dirty."

那下面的句子又有問題嗎?

"This girl is smart and that boy dumb."

句子的第一個 subject "girl" 是單數的,而第二個 subject "boy" 也是單數的,因此它們可以分享同一個 singular verb "is",句子並沒有問題。

看看下面的例子: 

These shirts are clean but that one over there is dirty.  (correct) 
These shirts are clean but that one over there dirty.  (wrong!) 

The coach was there but the athletes were absent.  (correct) 
The coach was there but the athletes absent.  (wrong!) 

He was given a Rolex watch while his brothers were given Casio watches.  (correct) 
He was given a Rolex watch while his brothers Casio watches.  (wrong!)