Q:It is surprising Jerry should be so polite today. 這句是假設語氣嗎?

A:沒錯,這句是假設語氣。在英文中,表示主觀認為不該如此,而非敘述事實,要用假設語氣,其句型為 It’s + 形容詞 (+ that) + 主詞 + should + 原形動詞 (表示現在或未來) 或 should + have + 過去分詞 (表示過去);should 在句中意為「居然,竟然」。例如:

  • It is surprising (that) Jerry should be so polite today. (真想不到傑瑞今天竟然這麼有禮貌) (正)
    It is surprising (that) Jerry would be so polite today. (誤)
    It is surprising (that) Jerry was so polite today. (誤)
  • It is very strange that Tom should be so quiet today. (很奇怪,湯姆今天居然如此安靜)

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Q:There’s three books on the desk. 這句對嗎?

A:若根據文法,這句當然不對,因為 there is 和 there’s 的後面都要接單數可數名詞或不可數名詞,而 there are 後面接複數可數名詞。然而,在說話及非正式寫作中,像 There’s three books on the desk. (書桌上有三本書) 這種用 there’s 來引導複數主詞的情況所在多有,如 There’s lots of cars in the parking lot. (停車場裡有許多車子)。這種用法在正式寫作或考試中會被視為錯誤,使用時不可不慎。

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Q:一位外國朋友每次寫 email 給我,第一句話都是寫 “I hope this email finds you well.”。這句話是什麼意思?是否可以說明 find 在此的用法?

A:“I hope this email finds you well.” 這句話是書信的問候語或祝福語,它的字面意思是「我希望您收到此 email 時身體健康」,相當於我們常見或常用的「收信好」、「收信安好」、「收信快樂」、「收信愉快」等的意思。類似的例句還有 I hope this card finds you in better health. (我希望您收到這張卡片時身體更健康)。

這是「find + 受詞 + 副詞或介系詞」的句型應用,其中 find 意為「發現,發覺,感覺到」,而整個句型的意思為「發現 (受詞) 處於某種狀態」。例如:

  • When we arrived this morning, we found Cindy (= she was) in a good/bad mood. (今天早上我們到達時,發現辛蒂心情不錯 / 心情不好)
  • Sam woke up to find himself (= that he was) in the hospital. (山姆醒過來時,發現他已在醫院裡)
  • Saturday midnight found Robert (= he was) lying drunk on the floor. (星期六午夜羅伯特醉臥在地板上)
  • Mary: I thought his act was despicable. (瑪麗:我認為他的行為卑劣)
    Amy: I didn’t find it so. (艾美:我不覺得他的行為是這樣)

Q:在 I’ll face the fact that my girlfriend will move to Taipei tomorrow. 中,the fact that 的語法功能為何呢?

A:這句的意思為「我將要面對我女友明天搬到台北的事實」。儘管中文翻譯有「事實」二字,但它並非 “the fact” 的翻譯,而是筆者為了讓中文翻譯變得通順而加入的,因為 the fact that 中的 the fact 雖具有舉足輕重的語法功能,但本身並無意義。

The fact that 的語法功能有下列三項,其對英文寫作的幫助尤其宏大:

一、用來引導名詞子句

在許多情況中,當 that 所引導的名詞子句比較複雜時,若直接將其置於句首當主詞,可能會顯得「頭重腳輕」。這時我們通常使用形式主詞或虛主詞 it 來代替 that 子句,而將 that 子句置於句末。注意:that 子句當主詞時,動詞須用單數。例如:

  • That my son has passed all the exams makes me feel very happy.
    = It makes me feel very happy that my son has passed all the exams. (我兒子已通過所有考試,令我很高興)
  • That he lost his job suddenly worried his parents very much.
    = It worried his parents very much that he lost his job suddenly. (他突然失業,使他的父母非常憂慮)
  • That she did not go to Cindy’s birthday party surprised everybody.
    =It surprised everybody that she did not go to Cindy’s birthday party. (她未參加辛蒂的生日派對,讓大家很驚訝)

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Q: 國內不少人使用的 Yxxxx!字典有 “The dollar has gone down against the yen, therefore Japanese goods are more expensive for Americans.” 這樣一個例句。但這句對嗎?

A:這句犯了一個相當常見且非常嚴重的錯誤,也就是英文所謂的「逗點謬誤」 (comma fault or run-on error),即兩個句子之間沒有連接詞而是用逗點來當連接詞。這種句子被稱為 run-on sentences。問題的癥結在於 therefore 是個副詞,卻被當作連接詞。所以問題中的句子應改為

  • The dollar has gone down against the yen, and therefore Japanese goods are more expensive for Americans. (美元兌日元的匯率下跌了,因此日本商品對美國人來說比較貴了) - 這句沒有下句好。

  • The dollar has gone down against the yen; therefore, Japanese goods are more expensive for Americans.

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Q:Could I borrow your pen? 和 May I borrow your pen? 哪一句比較有禮貌呢?

A:在英文中,有幾種句型可以表示禮貌性請求。在此我們將討論最常見的以 “I” 和以 “you” 作主詞的禮貌性請求。首先來看以 I 當主詞的禮貌性請求,如 Could I borrow your pen (please)?;May I (please) borrow your pen? (注意:please 可以放在句末或主詞後面)。這兩句都意為「我可以借你的筆嗎?」,而且禮貌程度等量齊觀、不相上下。不過,要注意的是,在禮貌性請求中,could 係表示現在或未來的意義,並非過去的意義。此外,我們亦可使用 Can I borrow your pen?,但 Can I 係用於非正式場合,尤其是用在說話者對他或她相當熟識的人提出請求的場合。一般通常認為 Can I 的禮貌程度略低於 Could I 或 May I。事實上,Might I 也可以表示禮貌性請求,如 Might I borrow your pen?,但 Might I 係用於非常正式且講究禮貌的場合,所以它的使用頻率比 Could I 或 May I 低很多。

對於以 I 當主詞的禮貌性請求,一般典型的回應是 “Certainly”、”Yes, certainly”、”Of course”、”Yes, of course” 或 “Sure” (非正式)。吾人亦經常使用動作來回應禮貌性請求,如點頭、搖頭或只是「嗯」(uh-huh) 一聲。

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Q:如何把想要表達的東西都寫在同一句,也就是說,如何延伸句子呢?

A:在英文中,許多功能都是藉由標點符號來達成,句子的延伸亦然。我們可以使用冒號 (colon) (:)、分號 (semicolon) (;)、破折號 (dash) (–) 和省略符號 (ellipsis) (…) 來延伸句子,把想要表達的東西都寫在同一句。此外,值得一提的是,冒號後面第一個字通常大寫,而分號後面第一個字則一定小寫。請看下面的敘述:

使用冒號係對句中前面提到的事物提供更多資訊或做進一步的解釋。例如:

  • There are three pets in the house now: A cat, a dog, and a hamster. (現在屋內有三隻寵物:一隻貓、一隻狗和一隻倉鼠)
  • The management blamed the workers’ sit-in for one thing: Paul’s incitement. (資方把工人靜坐示威歸咎於一件事:保羅的煽動)

使用分號可以起轉折 (transition) 作用而不必開始一個新的句子來敘述兩件相關的事物。分號的轉折作用比句點來得好。例如:

  • My professor did not approve of my App; he found it completely useless. (我的教授不贊同我寫的 App;他認為那個應用程式毫無用處)
  • No one was killed in the explosion; the only damage was a house that was razed to the ground. (無人在爆炸中喪命;唯一的損壞是一間房子被夷為平地)

由於分號具有轉折作用,因此分號的後面往往接 however, therefore, consequently, of course, for example, as a result, on the contrary 等轉折詞,做為句子前半部和後半部的橋樑。例如:

  • I am leaving now; however, I will be back on Friday to come to your birthday party. (我現在要離開了;不過,我禮拜五會回來參加你的生日派對)
  • I talked with my best friend until the early hours; consequently, I overslept. (我跟我最要好的朋友聊到凌晨;結果我睡過頭了)
  • Angela is in your class; of course, you know her. (安琪拉和你同班;你當然認識她)
  • John does not loathe wrestling; on the contrary, he quite likes it. (約翰並不討厭摔角;相反地,他相當喜歡摔角)

使用省略符號可以起句子走文或說話停頓的作用,而且在引句中可以省略一些字。例如:

  • “I’m wondering if I …” Jack said. (傑克說:「我想知道我是否 …」)
  • A credit card stolen from a man in Taipei was used to pay for a Chinese meal 18 hours later … in Los Angeles. (一張在台北竊自一名男子的信用卡,18 小時後在洛杉磯被用來支付一頓中式餐飲的賬單)
  • The ceremony honored ten brilliant athletes … visiting the U.S. (這項儀式表揚了十位正在美國訪問的傑出運動員)
    - 原句可能是:The ceremony honored ten brilliant athletes from Taiwan who were visiting the U.S. (這項儀式表揚了十位正在美國訪問、來自台灣的傑出運動員),其中省略了 “from Taiwan who were”,並代之以省略符號。

如果您想不起來上述任何一項規則,或者還沒完全弄懂冒號、分號和省略符號的用法,那麼就使用破折號,因為破折號具有這三者的功能。例如:

  • The management blamed the workers’ sit-in for one thing – Paul’s incitement. (破折號取代冒號)
  • No one was killed in the explosion – the only damage was a house that was razed to the ground. (破折號取代分號)
  • A credit card stolen from a man in Taipei was used to pay for a Chinese meal 18 hours later – in Los Angeles. (破折號取代省略符號)

Q:網路上有人說 Who am I to say you love me? 這句的翻譯是「我該對誰說你愛我?」,這意思對嗎?

A:在回答問題之前,我們先來看不久前教宗方濟各 (Pope Francis) 訪問巴西後飛返羅馬途中,在飛機上針對同性戀神職人員問題所講的一句話:”If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”。教宗這句話中的 Who am I to judge? 跟問題中的 Who am I to say you love me? 顯然是同一句型。

若按照網路上的翻譯方式,那麼教宗這句話應譯成「如果有人是同性戀,而能心懷善念追尋上帝,我該對誰評斷?」顯然地,「我該對誰評斷」的語意不是很清楚,因為它的意思並不正確。Who am I to …? 和 Who are you to …? 等句型的正確意思是「我/你憑什麼?」、「我/你有什麼資格?」、「我/你算哪根蔥?」、「我/你算老幾?」。所以 Who am I to judge? 的正確意思是「我有什麼資格評斷?」(亦即我沒有資格論斷),而 Who am I to say you love me? 是「我有什麼資格說你愛我?」或「我憑什麼說你愛我?」。

從中文翻譯來看,這種句型的應用應該相當廣泛,而事實也是如此。請看下面的例句:

  • Who am I to argue with the principal? (跟校長爭論? 我算老幾?)
  • Who am I to argue with my boss? (跟老闆爭辯? 我算哪根蔥?」
  • Who are you to do so? (你憑什麼這麼做? /你有什麼資格這樣做?)
  • Who are they to be singers? (想當歌星? 他們算哪根蔥?)
  • Who is Ted to meddle in our affairs? (泰德憑什麼管我們的事?)
  • It is his own decision to get divorced and who is anyone to stand in his way? (離婚是他自己的決定,任何人憑什麼阻攔他?)

Q:在 I don’t know what to do. 這句中,what to do 是當 know 的受詞,那麼它是不是某個句子的減化呢? 若是,它的原句為何呢?

A:what, which, when, where, who, whom, whose, how 等 wh-字和 whether 的後面都可以接不定詞來用作名詞片語。既然是名詞片語,那麼它們一定是從名詞子句減化 (reduce) 而來,換言之,它們的原句都是名詞子句。用英文來表達就是:A noun phrase is a reduction of a noun clause.。

在進入主題之前,我們先來談關係子句 (形容詞子句) 的一個減化規則,那就是若子句中含有 should, would, must, can, may 等情態助動詞 (modals or modal auxiliaries),那麼句子減化時須將情態助動詞變成不定詞。例如:

The man to remember (= whom you/we/everyone should remember) is Bill. (吾人應該記得的人是比爾)

這規則亦適用於名詞子句。所以,「wh-字 + 不定詞」的原句一定含有情態助動詞。然而,「wh-字 + 不定詞」中的不定詞只有「應該」或「能」的含義,亦即它們只對應 should 或 can/could (現在式用 can,過去式用 could),並無其他情態助動詞的意思。例如:

  • I don’t know what to do. (我不知道做什麼)
  • I don’t know what I should do. (我不知道我該做什麼)
  • Wendy found two smartphones she liked, but she had difficulty deciding which one to buy. (溫蒂發現兩支她都喜歡的智慧型手機,但她難以決定買哪一支)
  • Wendy found two smartphones she liked, but she had difficulty deciding which one she should buy. (溫蒂發現兩支她都喜歡的智慧型手機,但她難以決定她該買哪一支)
  • Tony can’t decide whether to hang out with his friends or (to) stay home tonight. (東尼不能決定今晚是要和朋友廝混在一起還是留在家裡)
  • Tony can’t decide whether he should hang out with his friends or stay home tonight. (東尼不能決定今晚他該和朋友廝混在一起還是留在家裡)
  • Please tell me how to find these reference books? (請告訴我怎樣找到這些參考書)
  • Please tell me how I can find these reference books? (請告訴我怎樣我才能找到這些參考書)
  • Professor Lee told me how to teach English. (李教授告訴我怎樣教英文)
  • Professor Lee told me how I could teach English. (李教授告訴我怎樣我才能教英文)

在上面這五組例句中,各組兩句的意思並無不同。

Q:在 The house which Allen lives in is the oldest in the community. 這句中,which 是否可以用 where 來代替呢?

A:可以! Where 這個關係副詞所引導的關係子句或形容詞子句原本就是用來修飾先行詞為地點的名詞 (如 room, house, city, country 等等)。不過,若使用 where,就不可再用介系詞 (這裡是 in);若不用 where,則須有介詞,但介詞可以挪到 which 的前面,使其變成 The house in which Allen lives is the oldest in the community. (艾倫居住的房子是本社區最老舊的)。再者,在這句中,which 亦可用 that (關係代名詞) 來替代,但後面仍須保留介詞,且介詞不可挪到 that 的前面,因為 that 的前面不可有介詞;不過,由於 which 或 that 都是 (介詞的) 受詞,因此均可省略。

綜上所述,問題中的句子總共有五種寫法:

  • The house where Allen lives is the oldest in the community.
  • The house which Allen lives in is the oldest in the community.
  • The house in which Allen lives is the oldest in the community.
  • The house that Allen lives in is the oldest in the community.
  • The house Allen lives in is the oldest in the community.

茲再舉一例來加深大家對這種關係子句句型的印象 (在此使用另一地點介詞 at):

  • That is the restaurant where I will meet Cindy. (那是我要跟辛蒂會面的餐廳)
  • That is the restaurant which I will meet Cindy at.
  • That is the restaurant at which I will meet Cindy.
  • That is the restaurant that I will meet Cindy at.
  • That is the restaurant I will meet Cindy at.

所以,下面的句子都是錯的:

  • That is the restaurant which I will meet Cindy. (誤)
  • That is the restaurant that I will meet Cindy. (誤)
  • That is the restaurant I will meet Cindy. (誤)

至於另一關係副詞 when,則是用來修飾先行詞為時間的名詞 (如 time, day, year, century 等等)。它的用法與 where 雷同,但有兩個地方明顯不同,一是介詞不可以放在子句的末尾 (這與其他關係子句的介詞用法皆不同),二是 that 可視為關係副詞。例如:

  • I’ll never forget the day when I first met my wife. (我永遠不會忘記我和內人初次見面的那一天)
  • I’ll never forget the day on which I first met my wife.
  • I’ll never forget the day that I first met my wife.
  • I’ll never forget the day I first met my wife.

若使用 when,就不可再用介詞 (時刻用 at;日期用 on;月份、季節和年份用 in);若不用 when,則須有介詞,但介詞只能放在 which 的前面,若不用 which,則介詞要省略,不可放在句末。在 when 所引導的關係子句,我們可以用 that 來代替 when,因而這 that 被視為關係副詞。Which 在這兩種句型中皆是關代。

同樣地,茲再舉一例來加深大家對這種關係子句句型的印象 (在此使用另一時間介詞 in):

  • December is the month when the weather is usually the coldest. (十二月通常是天氣最冷的月份)
  • December is the month in which the weather is usually the coldest.
  • December is the month that the weather is usually the coldest.
  • December is the month the weather is usually the coldest.

所以,下面的句子都是錯的:

  • December is the month which the weather is usually the coldest in. (誤)
  • December is the month that the weather is usually the coldest in. (誤)
  • December is the month the weather is usually the coldest in. (誤)